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THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
tlHTHBOPBN. CArruNtOr ADVENTVRB.ETC,
Good people, «ince God alone can make you wise
and kind, the jester's province is
merely to amuse you
THE BOBBS-MERRnx COMPANY
Tmi Bobbs-Mekrill CourAur
•AMmWOffTH 4 CO.
•oonmom MD nnTm
MraOKLVN. N, V.
I The Glamour of Yooth ^1
II The Aoe of Knighthood jg
in The Swing of Events _ jgj
IV The Pawohs OF War j4j
V TheWuMPS jjj
^' »"' .'.".' 201
VII A Ship Withoitt a Rudder 22J
VIII Mr. Raus 2W
IX The Sacrifice 2jj
X The Ordeal BY Torture 291
XI The Soul of La Mancha - jji
XII Inipector Buckie's Narrativi 343
THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH
T JOSE DE LA MANCHA Y O'BRIEN, was
1) bom on the ninth day of November, 1865, in
Spain, of an Irish mother and a Spanish sire. Ten
years later my parents entered the service of God,
my father from a battle-field, my mother living in
With my brother. Don Pedro, the Brat, then eight
years old, I was sent away from Spain to Tito, a
fat Irish aunt, whose highly poisonous husband.
Uncle Tito, was English, and lived in London.
From their house, when he was old enough, I took
the Brat to my school where I attended to his mor-
als with a small strap. I had been busy for sev-
eral terms explaining to the other chaps at school
a THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
that they were heretics and doomed to hell, and as
my 8km was not large enough to hold the lickings
they supplied me, they paid the balance to my little
brother. He spoke as yet but very broken English
and could not understand why he should share with
me the glories of an early martyrdom. He shunned
Yet, when in 1883 I went to iollege, the Brat was
not content to be left alone. Indeed he ran from
school, and when I next heard from him. was in
America, where he had gone to work for a man
called Lane. When the summer vacation left me
free. Aunt Tita supplied me with money and sent
me off to collect my Brat. I was to bring him home
and place him at a private school in Oxford where
I could always keep him out of nuschief. Thus I
set out, determined to tear the Brat's hide off over
his ears when I caught him. Perhaps he expected
as much and was ungrateful, for when in due course
I arrived in Winnipeg—from whence his letter ap-
peared to have been posted—I could find no trace of
my brother or of any n»n caUed Lane in Manitoba.
There the search (Aided in bitter disappointment.
■' When I had lost my brother, with nothing left in
aU the world to love, a dog adopted me. Rich
M-^ed was named after a Wscuit box containing
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH
twenty-seven distinct species of biscuits. You will
realize that a dog must be of the noblest pedigree
who had twenty-seven quaiterings on his coat of
arms and showed unmistakable descent from every
possible kind of thoroughbred from daschund to
great Dane. I loved him dearly and was consoled
for my brother's loss.
Since I could not take Brat home, and would not
return without him, I had no use for the remaining
funds. Most of the cash was disposed of at a race-
meeting where the wrong horses won. ITie rest of
it merely dispersed.
At that time, a laundress pursued me with a bun-
dle of my washing and a bill I could not pay. To
dispose of this poor widow, I despatched her with a
note to the Presbyterian minister. My letter ac-
cused him of deserting one whom he had sworn
always to love and cherish. Mrs. Minister appears
to have been morbid, for she put the police after
me for attempting to levy blackmail. I could not
safely remain in Winnipeg.
And yet I had not then the means for flight until
I thought of Tito's dressing-case, a gift from His
late Catholic Majesty to my fat uncle. It proved
good enough to pay for a farewell dinner, at which
I consulted my friends on the idea of flight from
4 THE r 2ERFUL BLACKGUARD
•dvce, the pol.ce became obnoxious. I fled with my
uoor we ieft cabby crowned with a chanl,»
«r if ? '""' '"°'' *'■- ♦»»» - could
forth to^nT '" K """"^ ^''"^ ^'-'^ -d I set
forth to find my brother. We had no place to go to
jnd no money, so we did not get ve^ far M^^
I fell asleep out on the starlit prairie
wailmg dose bes.de us. a wolf-howl. but for its hu
-n throb a thing beyond all anguish of he C'
heartrend.ng de«,lation keening star-high, Ch^fS
■nt ecoe3 throbbed on the hori^oaThehusLt
a the m.ss.on gave tongue in answer, the tame dogs
bayed m distant Winnioep F^, ^
Mixed a«H T . , ""'P*8^- ^o"^ some time Rich
M.xed a^d I lay l.stening, while above us the star-
blaze drowned in depths of the vast sky
ot .^oses. The green dawn widened, edged at thi
%-l.ne with clear topaz light. There, ifthe el^^
nc a.r of the Great Plains, life was aU de«gl "
'- the perfumed ground to those immnSes?
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 5
aerial splendor heralding the sun. I had never felt
80 well, or half so happy. And I had been drunk.
Is the reader shocked? Why? If we poor moths
were horrified by candles, our wings would not get
Through sleep itself, and from the very moment
of awaking, I was disturbed by the noise of the
middle night, those agonized and desolating howls.
Who howled? And what the deuce was it howl-
ing about? To see about that I got up, stretching
mysdf and feeling rather dizzy, as though from
running in circles. Then I lurched forward, tripped
and sat down with a bang on a grave mound. The
place was full of graves I
And as I fell the mournful wailing in the twilight
changed at mid-howl into a funny chuckle. Then a
soft voice said to me. "So. You comel"
I looked up, and saw Rain.
You may remember Tennyson's words about the
Woman you, and I, and all true men have loved:
"w* ^ '^''«'d her, ere she knew my heart.
My first, last love, the idol of my youth
The darlmg of my manhood, and alas
Now the most blessed memory of mine age."
the wilderness has always been to me a visible
C THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
expression of that great Holy Trinity, of Power,
Love and Truth, which we call God.
In Rain, the glamour of God's wilderness had
taken human form as a red Indian girl « 'th youth's
delicious gr^ /ity of bearing, the childlike purity of
the unUinted savage, hale strength, athletic grace
and eyes derisive. Sorrow had made her at that
time aloof, remote from the world I lived in as a
Madonna set above an altar, and yet her smile
seemed to make fun of me. I looked up at her with
reverence, with wonder, and if I loved, the love
I offered to her was sacred, not profane. Yet if I
seemed to worship, she would ridicule, so I had to
pretend as a boy does to a girl. "Oh, don't mind
me," I stuttered. "Please go on with that howl I"
"Boy-drunk-in-tbe-moming," she answered. "My
dream, he say you come."
"So I have come," said I.
Years afterward, when I had learned her lan-
guage. Rain told me in Blackfoot the whole story
of the adventure, which led her to that meeting with
me there on the plains at dawn.
She was a Blackfoot, of the Piegan or southern
tribe, which settled in Montana, and her father was
Brings-down-the-Sun, a war chief and a priest. In
the winter before we met, the Piegan chiefs came
I THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH y
to her father'i lodge. "At their request, he opened
the sacred bundle of the Buffalo Mystery, whose an-
cient and solemn ritual engaged them for a day and
a night in prayer. Afterward, they held a meeting
of the council, to discuss the manifest wasting away
of the bison herds on which the people depended for
For years, the Stone-hearts (white men) had been
slaughtering bison by millions for their hides, leav-
ing the meat to rot Now the last herds were sur-
rounded b hungry tribes, and the end was in sight
when the people must die of famine. So the chiefs
sat in council
Flat Tail had been told by his dream that all the
buffaloes were hidden in a cave. Iron Shirt believed
that the Stone-hearts were hiding the main herd in
the country beyond the World-Spine (the Rocky
Mountains) . But Brings-down-the-Sun spoke of an
Ojibway from the far East, who told him about the
Min-it-o-ba or Land of the Great Spirit near to the
lodge ./here the Sun God lived, from whence he
rose each morning to cross the sky. "I am going,"
he told the council, "to this Land of God, and there
I will open again my sacred bundle. I will speak td
the Sun Spirit about our herds of bison, and how
they are being wasted by the Stone-hearts. I will
8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
pray that hearts of stone may be changed to flesh
and blood lest all the people die."
So taking his daughter, Rain, to serve him in the
ritual. Brings-down-the-Sun set out from their home
beside the World-Spine, and traveled eastward for
a thousand miles, crossing the plains to Manitoba,
which was the Land of God. There at the sunrise
making his prayer, he died, passing the threshold
of God's house into the presence.
Rain showed me the hole where the Stone-hearts
had buried her father. The ground spirits would
catch him there, so she had torn up the earth and
taken out the body. She had built a scaffold, where
now her dead lay robed and armed in majesty, fac-
ing the sunrise. She had shot her father's horse
so that its ghost might carry his shadow to the Sand
And afterward she had prayed.
"Oh, great Above-Medicine Person, Spirit in the
Sun. I pray to you!
"All you Above Spirits and Under Spirits carry
my prayer to the Sun!
"And all you holy Animals, -wiser and stronger
than I, have pity! Pray for me.
"I have made srorifice of my jewels, and my long
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 9
braids of hair. Great Sun God, take my father's
shadow to the Sand Hills, that he may be with our
The Seven Persons, our stars of the Great Bear,
were pointing to the earth; the Lost Children, our
Pleiades were sleepy on their way to bed, when Rain
felt the spirit leaving her father's body to ride the
Wolf Trail, the milky way which leads to the here-
And there was Morning Star. "Dear Morning
Star," she pleaded, "don't give long life to me, for
I am all alone."
She threw herself upon the upturned soil. "Oh,
mother," she sobbed, "I'm all alone, an^ oh, so
frightened. And you, dear Beaver Woman, my
Dream Helper, can't you send me help? Oh, send a
man to take me to my people."
The Piegan camp was a thousand miles away.
What chance had she of escaping death among the
hostile tribes between, or outrage at the hands of the
It was then she lifted up her voice in the Indian
death-wail, and so continued mourning until I came
in the gray of dawn, sent by her secret helper in an-
swer to her prayer.
lo THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
I saw the rifled grave, the scaffold and her dead.
"The people," said I, "who run this graveyard will
be so pleased I"
"You think so ? My old man, he seeks the M4n-it-
ou, but the Black Robe," she pointed to the Mission
of St. Boniface, "the sacred man, he say 'The King-
of God is within you.' So my old man," this with a
great gesture sweeping toward the skies, "he eo
Rain's talk wftS a compound of charm, French
half-breed patois, two or three English words, and
the sign language. But, as we Spaniards have it, she
was sympdtka. her eyes, her smile, expressing all
she felt, and I have found love a great interpreter.
Her blanket, fallen wide apart, disclosed a beauti-
ful tunic of white antelope skin, set with the teeth
of elk. which tinkled softly.
"You little duck!" I whispered. That was pro-
fane love, but it really couldn't be helped.
"K'yal" She drew back, folding the blanket
across her breast. "Boy-drunk-in-the-moming, you
"Half-breed!" said I, not at all pleased. "No.
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH n
"Well, you see, my little brother. Brat, was at
"All same mission ?"
"Yes, a place called Eton, mission school for half-
breeds. He ran away to be a pirate, and I ran after
him to keep him out of mischief."
"Meescheef ? In. understand. You catchum V
"No, he's with a man called Shifty Lane."
"Bad Mouth, I know him. He dog-faced man."
She darted forked fingers from her mouth, the sign
of snake tongue, meaning that Lane was a liar.
"You come," she pleaded, "I take you to Dog-
Face Lane. My dream, he say I take you."
"That's awfully decent of you."
Day filled the sky, but as yet there was neither
sunlight nor shadow, only a .clear fine radiance full
of hushed fussiness of birds, a growing blaze pf
color from goldenrod and prairie sunflower, and
fresh wild perfume.
Some little devil possessed me at that moment, for
I flung my arms about the girl, only to find I held an
empty blanket, while at arms' length the jolly little
beggar stood flushed and panting, while she mocked
me. Had I plenty scalps? Was my lodge red with
meat? Howmany horses had I to buy Rain? "Oh,
12 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Little-boy-drunk-in-the-moming. the quick fox
Ah, me! I never could withhold the tribute due to
women, which every citizen must pay to her sover-
eign power. So long I pleaded mercy that the sun
burned the sky-line, and the whole east was one vast
glory before she would consent to be my mother.
A girl who chaflfs is irresistible.
"Swear!" she said. "You touch me, you go hell
"I swear I love you."
"You love as the wind, eh ? Too many."
"I'm frightfully nice when I'm kissed."
"Maybe so. Now you catchum horse."
My horse? I had no horse.
"You poor?" she asked.
"I'm all I've got," I told her.
"S'pose," said Rain gaily, "I make 'um I-dian
"What! You'll make me an Indian? Oh, what a
lark! Come on!"
She led me through an aspen grove, all tremulous
green and silver, and in her little teepee, Rich Mixed
and I had breakfast. Then she left us to watch a
copper pot of herbs which simmered on the fire, and
slid away to her father's burial scaffold. There,
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 13
with some quaint apology to the Sun God, she took
back her braids of hair and sacrificed instead the
tip of her left little finger. When she returned to
the teepee, she showed me her bandaged hand, and
said she had cut her finger, but at the time I felt
more interested in my cigarette, the last. Then,
while I sat with a shaving mirror before me, she
wove hfr braids of hair into my black thatch, so
that the long plaits came down in front of my shoul-
ders almost to the waist. I was delighted, especially
when she set at the back of my head one straight-up
My dress suit, which last night had astonished
Winnipeg, seemed no longer congruous. Rain bade
me take it off, showing me the juice from her pot
of herbs, also a breech clout, at which I shied a
little. Still it was not long before I stripped, to
play at red Indians with the brown juice and the
clout, until Rain came back to see. She opened a
trunk of parfleche (arrow-proof hide) to show me
her father's clothes, then squatting by the fire she
burned sweet grass for incense to cleanse us both.
To me, the dressing-up was a joke; to 'ler, a
sacred rite, the putting on of manliness and non'or.
With each new garment, she recited prayers: as I
put on the buckskin leggings and war-shirt, with
14 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
their delicious perfume of wood smoke, the par-
fleche-soled mocpasins, from which the Blackfoot
nation takes its name, and the broad belt studded
with brass carpet tacks. Then she gave me a painted
robe of buffalo cow-skin, and showed me how to
carry myself with the medicine-iron, a .45-70 Win-
Perhaps I should mention that Rich Mixed flew
■at and bit this Indian, before he realized that the
person inside was me. But I had never been so
Let me confess most humbly to an unusual
strength and grace of body, the carriage of a gentle-
man, and a most lamentable face: the pinched
forehead and strong features of an Indian, the
pointed ears, the devilish eyes and brows, and wide
flexible mouth of a faun. In civilized clothing, I
had been grotesque; but there was mystery in the
Indian dress, which made me for the first time real
and natural. I had always a passionate sick crav-
ing for all things beautiful, a fierce delight in color,
line, proportion, harmony, and now with the change
of dress was no longer hideous. I had come to my
own, and while Rain struck camp, ran yelling with
delight to round up her herd of ponies.
At this point, I should pause to be sententious
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH
with sentimental comment on all the blessings I had
left behind me :
Item. My worthy aunt, damp with many tears, but
much relieved. She had hopefully predicted my un-
Item. My pernicious uncle, who in due time ap-
peared before a judge in Chambers asking leave to
presume my brother's death and mine, so that his
wife might have our heritage.
Item. My prospects. Mine was the only kind of
education which can be guaranteed to turn out
Item. Winnipeg. This tity was supported a' the
time by the single industry of cheating in real estate.
I had been offered employment as a cheat.
Item. The House of the Red Lamp, where my
guests of the night before awaited me.
Any reader who hates geography had better skip
this passage. It is a dull subject, only intro-
duced when the writer wants to show off. That
should be enough to choke off the skipping reader,
and so I may safely divulge to the gentle reader
that I allude to the geography of love.
i6 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Rain led be along the boundary trail, which fol-
lows the main divide between the land of boyhood
and the domain of manhood. It is a narrow trail,
no wider than a tight rope, so we fell off on both
sides. Rain's adopted son was too old, you see, for
motherly caresses, too young for the other kind.
And Rain herself set me a bad example. She never
could hit the motherly attitude without exaggerat-
ing, but was usually about a hundred years old
before breakfast, and lapsed to five at the first cup
of coffee. Then I would waste time being her affec-
tionate infant son when it was my manly duty to'
murder a rabbit for supper. I was never traceable
of a frosty morning, when mother sent me off to
my bath in an ice-filled slough. That daily bathing
in all weathers is a most gruesome habit of the
Blackfeet, whereas I like being warm. An adopted
Child, too, ought not to cuddle mother while she is
cooking, yet when she clouted me, I would take
offense. And how could Rain howl of an evening
for her poor father, while I sang ribald songs, such
as "Obediah I Obediah I Oh, be damned I"
I fancied myself as an Indian warrior, and ex-
pected Rain to admire me in the part. Play up? Of
course I did. Had I been rigid English, forcing the
world to fit me, too proud to make a fool of my-
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 17
self, too austere to see the fun, but I am not. I am
human, Spaniard with a touch of Irish, fluid to fit
my surroundings. I riotously overplayed so wild a
burlesque redskin that Rain would laugh, ache, sob
and have hysterics.
We played at the hand talk, until we could con-
verse. We played at the Blackfoot language, until
I understood when she didn't gabble. I learned
my roping, packing, tracking and sign quicker than
she could teach me. Yet what was the use of Rain
playing the teacher, when her pupil would chase her
round the camp-fire, then rumple her with infant
hugs and kisses as a reward for having been too
good. In vain, she reminded me of my oath that
I would go to hell if ever again I touched her.
"Me Iiijvn now," said I. "White man's hell too
full: !io room for Injun."
She could not teach mc the craft of warriors, and
my ideas of finding water led always to dry camps.
I liked a nice big Are in the evening, and by day
delighted in riding along the sky-line firing off my
gun— in that land the Crees, Dakotas, Grosventres
and Absarokas collected scalps as you do postage
My notion of hunting was to ride down wind and
miss the game on the wing, which suited the antelope
i8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
•nd the j»dc rabbit. As to the prairie chickeos and
dudes, they sat out my rifle shooting in perfect
confidence at no risk whatever. Even before I
fired my last cartridge, Rain was obliged to add my
work to her own, and had she not snared ground
game, we should have starved to death. Her reli-
gion forbade the eating of fish and ground game, so
in her most pious moods I ate for both. And since
I was neither of use nor ornament, Rain mothered
me. Mothering is the play of girls, the life of
women. Rain enjoyed me, too, as a comic relief to
! I would have ycu understand that we were boy
and girl together, not man and woman. We played
at love as one of many games, but lived apart. We
played at mother and son, teacher and pupil, but not
at husband and wife. I thought my honor must
be a thing heroic, sacred, absolute, like a great
fortress, while Rain trusted me.
A gentleman, I suppose, is one who expects much
of himself, little of others. He is liable to be dis-
appointed with himself if ever he betrays a woman's
trust, fails to live by his own resources and oppor-
tunities, or marries for money, or finds himself kept
by a woman. Yet he may engage to be a woman's
servant, be she queen or peasani, and fight for her
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 19
defense without loss of honor. I was content for
the time to be Rain's servant while she was in danger.
And afterward? Boys do not worry about after-
From the Red River to the Rocky Mountains, the
Canadian Plains form three steps, the lower or Man-
itoban, the middle or Saskatchewan, and the upper
or Albertan, in all about one thousand miles across.
At the time of our journey, these lay in almost un-
broken solitude. In many districts, the bison skulls
lay like the white tombstones of a graveyard, reach-
ing in all directions beyond the sky-line. The herds
were gone, the hunters had followed, and the land
lay void, a desolation such as our world has never
known and never may again.
Rain steered us clear of the few and scattered
homes of frontiersmen, wide of the .tamp grounds
used by possibly hostile savages, and at the end of
the tenth week, led me to the high western scarp of
the Cypress Hills.
Beneath us the grass, with many i. tawny ridge
and faint blue vale, reached away into golden haze,
and like a cloud belt far above soared the gray
World-Spine, streaked and flecked with snow. Yon-
der, beside the Rockies, lived her people. Here
at our feet was the Writing- i-Stone by Milk
TO THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
River, where my young brother worked for Shitty
For that day's rations we chewed rabbit skins,
and at sundown came to Lane's trading post, ex-
pecting after we made camp to barter for provi-
sions. But while Rain unloaded the ponies, and I
composed myself upon a robe to watch her. Miss
Lane rode over from the house. The trader's half-
breed daughter was eager to show oflf in her dress
of cotton print, a sunbonnet, real shoes of leather
and jewelry of rolled gold set with gems of glass,
insignii- of her grandeur and importance.
"K'ya!" she cried, when Rich Mixed had finished
barking, then reining her roan cayuse, surveying
our beggarly camp. "Kyai-yo." She patted her
lips with one hand, so that the exclamation came
'put in broken gusts. "Ky-ai-i-yo-o ! You poor,
hungry' ones I"
"I have a horse," said I, "to trade for food."
But she ignored me, pattering in Blackfoot.
,"Don't," she chattered, "don't think of trading
horses to my father. All people try to trade them
off for food, but we haven't enough grub for win-
ter, and he gets mad. So then they go away and
eat a pony."
"My rifle," said I, "won't he take that in trade?"
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH at
"No buffalo left," said Mitt Lane, "and the
people can't find any deer. Why, Flat Tail't band
are reduced to fiih, and you know that the Sun God
forbids them to eat fish."
"Don't you hear?" asked Raia "Oh, Got- Wet,
we'll sell the rifle."
But Got-Wet stared at me, then turned to Rain
with a grin as she declared in English, "He sham
Rain bribed the girl to silence with a gift from
St. Boniface Mission, a pincushion cover made of
Berlin wool, which represented a blue cat on a
green sky, seated, head at right turn, eyes of pink
beads. In excruciating raptures, Got-Wet promised
a supper after dark. Meanwhile, she stayed for a
gossip, advising Rain in the art of pitching camp,
with now and again a peep at the sham Indian,
foUowed by great pantomime of fright. As for me,
I wa; too proud to be routed out of camp by a girl's
impudence, too hungry to search for my brother,
too shy to interview the trader and buy food.
How could I, with Rain's last streak of yellow face-
paint across my lordly nose, confront a white man?
I sat in high gloom, disdaining to notice Got-Wet.
' And in excited whispers, Got-Wet divulged to
Rain how Pedro, a white boy of marvelous in-
22 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
competence, had run away with her cow. Yes, only
last night he had stolen her cow and run for the
Medicine Line (United States-Canada boundary).
Oh, so handsome, tool And how he admired her.
Why, once, the rest was told in whispers, and must
have been a secret I was too young to hear.
Pedro, of course, was my Brat, but I could hardly
imagine a La Manjcha stealing a mere cow. Still,
this could be none other than my brother.
Yet, according to C!ot-Wet, my brother had
skipped the .country, and a rider nad been sent in
haste to fetch the pony soldiers. I had not heard
of any mounted troops. Who were these pony
I could see that, whoever the soldiers were, Got-
Wet was thoroughly frightened lest they should
catch my brother. She began to plead with Rain
to ride at once, to ride hard all night, to catch my
Brat, and bring home the stolen cow. Yes, she
would pay us a sack of flour and a side of bacon, if
we would fetch the cow. And while we were about
it, we might just as well warn the foolish boy to
hide himself in the rocks, until the soldiers passed.
Rain gave me a glance, to show that she under-
stood my brother's danger. Yes, she would ride
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 23
with me, as soon as we finished sup;ier and had 1.1 e
flour and bacon for our journey. Bat who /as
the messenger who had gone to fetch the soidijrs?
"Why, Tail-Feathers-round-his-neck. Who else
I saw Rain flush. "But," she said, "Tail-Feathers
went to the buffalo hunting."
"There were no buffaloes," said Got-Wet. "So
Tail-Feathers came back. You know, he's the
greatest rifle-shot that ever— Well, that's how he
got a job, with rations and big pay. He's scout-
interpreter now to the pony soldiers."
With nods and winks, Got-Wet would have us
understand that Tail-Feathers also adored her. Not
that she would stoop to marry a mere Indian. "Oh,
no," she simpered. "Die first. Still, he adores me,
and rode off at once when I told him to fetch
"How far had he to go to fetch the soldiers?"
"Only to Slide-out They'll be here by daybreak.
Oh, Rain, you'll ride and warn that boy to-night?
Promise rac, dear."
"Shall I tell Pedro you love him?" asked Rain
But Got-Wet shouted, "No," then swung her
24 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
pony and galloped homeward, calling over her
shoulder, "Tell him I'm going to marry your sham
However hungry, I always liked to see Rain
pitching camp. She took the four key-poles of her
teepee and lashed them together near their small-
er ends; then set their butts four square upon the
ground, so that they made a pyramid. Next, she
laid the spare poles against the crotch of the key-
poles, so that their butts made of the square a circle.
Taking the skin cover of the tent, she draped it
round the cone of poles, mounting its ears on the
ear-poles to hoist it up into position, so that the
ears, or wind-vanes, and the door opened down
wind. She had cut the lodge down small as a
sign of mourning, with barely room for our two
back rests and sets of robes beside the middle
fire. It was none the less snug for being small,
so when I saw its lighted smoke in the dusk, I crept
in to sulk at home. I found Rain laughing softly,
while she laid down the beds, and bubbling over at
intervals, she explained to me all the news of how
my brother had stolen a cow, and how his enemy,
the Blackfoot warrior, Tail-Feathers, had gone to
fetcK poi^ soldiers. Ram blushed to the roots
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 25
of her hair, and told me then about Tail-Feathers.
She was to be Mrs. Tail-Feathers as soon as she
got home to the Piegan camp.
"Then," said I, "why does Tail-Feathers flirt
with that fool?"
Got-Wet, Rain told me, was artful, and a liar.
I sulked. The time was in sight when I must
part with Rain or marry her. It did not seem right
in those days that my father's son should marry a
mere squaw, and yet the thought of parting hurt
me very sorely. I hated Tail-Feathers the worse
because I saw Rain loved him. And I was so
At dark came Got-Wet, her pony loaded with
flour and bacon, which she made us hide at once
because it was stolen out of her father's store. She
had also a dish of scrapings, cold fried potatoes
and bacon, with soggy slapjacks and a can of tepid
coffee, good enough for Indians. She squatted in
the teepee to watch our ravenous eating, while she
gave trail directions in a gale of talk. So Jame a
gray and long-haired frontiersman, old Shifty Lane,
shaggy and roaring, who cursed his daughter for
feeding Indian beggars, and drove her homeward
storming through the darkness. Rain wanted to
26 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
talk, but I who had been empty was now full, and
snored with intentioa Presently the fire fluttered
When Rain awoke, a slender ray of moonlight
was creeping across the darkness near where I lay,
and seated in the chief's place, she saw her father's
npirit. He was always there to guard her through
t le night, perhaps to hear her sigh of deep content
when she changed dreams.
At midnight. Rain bustled me out to round the
ponies up while she struck camp. Why should
she be so eager to warn my Brat? She would not
spare me time to water the ponies, but drove the
outfit hard, wasting whole hours in bad ground by
starlight which in the morning we could have cross-
ed at ease. Day broke at last, and we took up the
tracks of the stolen cow. Beside them went the
marks of a white man's boots, just large enough
for Brat and too small for any one else. Rain
trailed her travois of lodge poles and our loose
ponies, to blot out those telltale signs, while I rode
well ahead down the Milk River Valley, under
long diflfs of castellated rock. There were orchards
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 27
of wild ripe fruit, but Rain insisted on a racking
pace, while the sun climbed up the eastern and down
the western sky. So when the sun was waning down
the west, we came upon our quarry. El Senor Don
Pedro de la Mancha, with his arms round the cow's
neck, sobbing bitterly.
Sudi was the heat, that I rode in breech clout
and moccasins, the Indian war-dress. Add to
that the devilish Indian war screech, and the charg-
ing horse, and you will realize that poor Brat had
scarcely time to jump out of his skin with fright,
before a wild and naked roaring savage galloped
He sat up, quite prepared for death, and yet, his
nose being crushed, and his heart full of indigna-
tion, he resolved to sell his life dearly. Heroes, he
remembered, in redskin fiction, always sell their
lives dearly, but are never seriously killed because
that would spoil the plot. The proper thing was
to lug out his .44 Colt revolver with its eight and a
half inch barrel and thus be prepared for great
deeds of war. It was a pity that all his cartridges
should be .45. Had they only fitted the gun, what
a scene of blood I
"What d'ye mean by stealing cows?" I asked him.
"Eh, you dirty rotter ? Stand up and have yer head
28 THE CHEERFUL' BLACKGUARD
punched! I'll teach you to get into mischief 1 Now.
Brat, I'm going to give you the dumedest hiding."
Yet, though I addressed the Brat in my very best
Eton manner, the tone of 'he public schools, as pro-
ceeding from a naked savage, entirely failed to con-
vince. It was not until I dismounted, and diligently
performed my promise, and having given him a
jolly good hiding, proceeded to give him some more,
that Brat began dimly to realize that I was indeed
So far, dear Rain, very impatient with us, had
from her saddle watched the ceremonial observances
of white men, when brothers meet after long separa-
tion. Now seeing that I had dropped a tail of my
false hair, she made me squat down while she
hurriedly braided it on again, cooing with sympathy
when she tugged too hard. Brat sat down opposite,
to pant and make friends with my dog, and while
his nose bled, announced that he also would turn
I asked him, gravely, "How?"
"Then," said he, "I'll be a robber, anyway."
"Look here," said I, "you know I've come a long
way and taken no end of trouble to keep you out
of mischief. You're not going to play the hog.
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 29
You Gadarene swine, if you're not respectable in
this life, where will you go when you die?"
Brat couldn't see why I should have all the fun,
so I invited him to another thrashing, and he ex-
"Promise," said I, "to be good."
Seeing preparations for war, he gave a sullen
"S'elp you Bob?"
"Bet yer sixpence."
"Brat, why not turn cowboy?"""
"But is that respectable?"
"Extremely so. Go and be good in the United
States, where you'll have lots of room. I don't
want to fcrowd you. Brat."
"I know that, Hosay."
Of course, we were talking in Spanish, and in
our language my name is spelled Jose, lest the Eng-
lish should guess the pronunciation.
"And you can say," I added lavishly, "that this
gun," I was taking sights, "was stolen from you
by Indians. Also the cow."
"But it's not true I"
30 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Oh, but it's not fair I"
"Child." said I, "our ancestors were not caught
by mere pony soldiers with such trifles as a gun
and a cow."
"You don't mean the mounted police?"
I had never heard of mounted police, but I look-
ed grave and wooden.
"I don't tare I" he cried. "I bought that gun
from their sergeant."
"And a licenser
"But the cartridges," said poor Braf, "are forty-
fives, and they don't fit the forty-four bore. You
might let me keep my gun."
"Oh, all right." I must own I was reluctant
"And the cow. Shifty Lane wouldn't pay me my
wages, so I collected his cow. The police wiU say
it served him jolly well right"
I was too hungry to relinquish real beef. "No,"
said I firmly, "you'd better let me look after the
So Brat began to tell me his adventures, and
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 31
how he had been fool enough to flirt wii.i Got- Wet
I was disgusted with him. especially as Lane's half-
breed daughter had be^n making violent iove to the
Indian. Tail-Feathers. I told Brat he really must
remember his social position, the natural obligations
of his rank, the utter foUy of stooping to such a
creature as Got-Wet Indeed, I had some hope of
improving my brother's morals, laying down pre-
cept and example, when Rain said the soldiers were
coming. She had been worrying us all the time we
I kissed poor Brat, and we promised to write let-
ters, though neither of us thought of giving a pos-
tal address. Then I sent him away with my bless-
"Vaya usted con DiosI"
"Adios," the Brat sobbed, "AdiosI"
So we parted, and my little brother went on
down the valley, very grateful. At an angle of the
cliffs, he waved his hat in farewell, and passed on
out of sight.
For my part, I mounted my sorrel and rode off,
driving the cow toward a break in the cliffs, where
I proposed to dine for onjce on beef without any
foolish delays. But Rain trailed after me with
32 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
the pack beasts, pleading that there were soldiers
in pursuit She spoke of some awful fate awaiting
Indian cow thieves caught red-handed with the
white man's beef.
Of course, what she said was all very well for
Indians, but I told her I was white, and all the pony
soldiers could go to blazes. I was hungry.
Poor little girl I I suppose she craved as much
as I did for a juicy rib. a tongue, the kidneys.
Unable to resist the kidneys, Ra.'n followed. The
low sun was right in our eyes. The meadow was
all haze; we could not see very well. And Rain
And through her sobs, Rain warned me. The
scout-interpreter, who was bringing the soldiers to
take a cow thief, was none other than her own
betrothed lover. Tail-Feathers would see us two
together. He would be angry, jealous. He was
the champion rifle-shot of the Blackfoot nation. I
had a rifle to threaten, no cartridges to fire. So
she made me fly from him, and march swiftly these
weary hours. To delay our flight was death.
I set my teeth, and refused her the slightest
notice. I hated Tail-Feathers I
iTHE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 33
Between the meadow and the foot of the cliff
some former channel of Milk River had left a
narrow lake. This pulled me up short, and as I looked
for a way round the water, a smoke-puf! appeared
at the rim of the cliff overhead, a rifle-shot rang out
with rumbling: thunder echoes, and my sorrel horse
crashed down dead, leaving me more or less in the
air. A second shot crumpled my cow. A third
grazed my naked shoulder, lifting blood. Then
came Rain at full gallop to my rescue, screaming
in Blackfoot to the man up there on the cliff.
"TaU-Feathers! Oh, Tail-Feathers, how could
you? Killed my pony, spoiled the cowl Don't
kill my squaw 1"
Her squaw 1 She called me a squaw 1 Mel I
jumped up and down in my fury.
"See," Rain shrieked. "My squaw is dancing I
"How dare youl" I shouted at her.
"Boy-drunk-in-the-moming," her eyes were danc-
ing with fun. "I'm saving your life, you silly."
"Mind your own business 1"
"Seel" She pointed at a gaunt, middle-aged In-
M THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
djan in n gr»y slop »uit, who rode along the sky-line
seeking a way down the cliffs. "There," she said.
It was cerUinly very awkward.
"I am his woman," she said demurely, then
tossing her head with a flash of royal pride, "and
he's my man I He comes now to take me to his
"But what right had the feUow to shoot me?
Confound his cheek, he has shot me I"
"Not much," she caressed the long wale carved in
my shoulder. Then she gabbled so quickly in her
sweet liquid speech, that I could only just catch
She was telling Tail-Feathers to stop kiUing me.
As if I cared I
Tail-Feathers was a mighty warrior, who could
never stoop to killing a mere boy with no s^p. a
boy with a false wig of woman's hair. She begged
me to set to the camp work, the squaw's work, so
I could stay alive until the soldiers got me.
Blind with tears, moaning with rage, I shot back
the lever and jammed it home, as though I were
loading my rifle. Tail-Feathers should think he
had an armed man to fight, not a squaw begging
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 35
hU mtrcy. I knelt down and took a sight at the
approaching horseman. If it wer« only loaded!
Rain was nervous. Her litUe toil-worn hands
were trembling as they caressed my head. "You're
not an Indian." she crooned. "Not like an Indian,
kneehng out here in the open, exposed, with an
empty rifle. Fight-in-ti.f-open-with-an-empty-gun
is the sort of person who makes my man laugh.
Oh. surely he must see that you're a mere boy. a
child, too young for killing.
"See how he leaves his pony and climbs down
—and comes from bush to bush and hides behind
the rocks— He's coming very near to see what's
wrong, why you don't fire. And I stand behind
you, so if he fires he'U get us both. Hear how
he shouts— Wants me to get out of his line of fire.
I'm so frightened!" She rumpled up my hair, and
laughed with queer, little, tremulous chuckles. "Ho,
Tail-Feathers." she called, "you're not to kill my
funny boy any more. I'll never love you if you
hurt my boy."
But Tail-Feathers yelled from behind a rock,
denouncing her for a wanton unfit to be his woman.
"Men are so stupid," she whispered in my ear.
"He's going to shoot us both."
36 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
I asked her quickly and roughly if she would be
my wife. If I had brought her ^o such a pass as
this, it was her due, and as a gentleman I could do
no less. Yet when she answered, "No," I felt re-
"To marry you," she chuckled, "to be your
woman? Boy-drunk-in-the-moming will take me
to his lodge of all the winds, a queer person who
can not hunt or fight or even run away. He'll feed
me through the hunger-death next winter. Oh,
you funny boy, I hope my man won't get you."
Now she had roused me to such a pitch of frenzy
that death was easy compared with the shame of life.
I could see the Indian creeping behind a rock not
fifty feet away. The Blackfeet have no oaths, but
I could swear, and did, until Rain shrank back
in horror. I sprang straight at the man, who was
so startled that he fired high.
He was pumping a fresh cartridge, and praying
the Great Mystery to guide his aim. By all the
rules of war, I had no right to charge him, for
no sane man would dare. He thought me crazy,
bullet proof, inspired by the Big Spirit.
But when he turned to run, I thought I was
losing him, and with a scream of passion hurled
THE GLAMOUR L7 YOUTH
my rifle whirling through the air. It caught him
just at the base of his skull, and felled him.
Then, with my foot upon his neck, I turned on
Rain. "Am I a squaw or am I a man?" I asked.
"Woman, come here, you're mine I"
For just one quivering moment. Rain obeyed
me. Then we both ftlt a tremor in the ground,
and looking up the valley saw a mounted man,
full gallop, charging at us. "The pony soldiers!
Fly for your lifel" cried Rain.
Slide-out Detachment was an outpost of the
Northwest Mounted Police, where the sergeant-
m-charge had the mumps, which made him look
ridiculous and feel cross. To him came Tail-Feath-
er, the scout-interpreter, with complaint from Shifty
Lane about a stolen cow. There was not a man to
be spared, so a recruit was sent on patrol. Constable
Buckie, with the scout for chaperon.
Poor Buckie rode in mingled pride and pain :
PRIDE. Half a mile out, he chucked his white
helmet into a bush and put on a stetson, the flat-
brimmed slouch hat of the prairies, which in those
days the police were not allowed to wear. He took
38 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
off his gauntlets because their pipe-day smeared
him, and stuffed them into his wallets. He sported
a silk handkerchief to dust his beautifully polished
long boots about once in every mile. For the rest,
he had a red dragoon tunic, indigo breeches with
a yellow leg-stripe, white cross belt, a blazing bright
belt of burnished cartridges, a foot-long Adams
revolver in its holster, and a Snyder carbine slung
athwart the horn of the stock saddle.
PAIN. The poor , soretail would have died on
duty rather than let his grief be seen by an Indian,
but he rode well over to starboard or at times with
a list to port, and hung on with bloody spurs, while
he loped a rough rangy gelding whose trot was
PRIDE. Approaching Lane's, he put the gaunt-
lets on, and ogled Got-Wet, who made him first
flirtation signals while she talked to the scout in
Blackfoot She was making Tail-Feathers to under-
stand how Rain, his promised wife, was traveling
just ahead with a white man disguised as an Indian.
Leaving Constable Buckie to play with Got-Wet, the
scout rode on to kill me. What happened after-
ward between Got-Wet and Buckie in the bam loft
is entered in the constable's official notes as "infor-
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 39
mation received." He was both proud and shocked
at his own conduct, supposing that eveiy flirt went
direct to perdition.
PAIN. Buckie rode down the valley all day long
wondering what could have become of his chaperon.
Toward sunset, a sound of rifle-shots ahead
aroused him to a sense of something wrong. He
saw the chance for some great deed of war, and
since he could not bear the pain either of trot or
canter, he had to charge at full gallop, keeping his
eyes shut because he was scared to look.
PRIDE. He pulled his gun.
Now I was standing on his chaperon's neck,
whetting my knife to scalp my first real Indian,
when suddenly I saw a proper Tommy Atkins, of
scarlet cavalry, somehow broke loose from England
and charging straight at me, blind.
"Whoa I" said I. "Whoa, boss!"
At that, the rangy gelding pulled up dead, but
the soldier came straight on until he bumped, and
slid right to my feet
"Hello!" said I.
The soldier blinked at me, leveled his gun and
grunted, "Hands up, you swine!"
But at that moment, I wanted a whole regiment
40 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
to defy, so I told him I'd see him damned first,
for I would not throw up my hands for any bally
"Come, hands up, nitchie (friend)."
"You siUy ass," I said. "Can't you see I'm a
"You look it," said he with sarcasm; and being
nicely stained brown aU over by way of costume,
I could only smile.
The rookie had misgivings. This episode would
be grand in Saturday's letter to mother, but what
would they say in barracks about pulling a revolver
on an unarmed man. He smirked, so I told him
to put his gun away and not try to be funny. He
"Consider yourself under arrest," he growled,
for that was the way the non-coms, always ad-
dressed htm. "Now," he stood up, "what d'ye
mean by kiUing the cow and my scout-interpreter?"
"If you—" I suggested blandly,
"If you— what?"
"If you please, pig," said I.
"Well, I'll be dog-gonedl Say." he asked, almost
respectfully, "have you seen a young fellow along
here by the name of Pedro la Manfha?"
"You dreamed him."
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 41
"Ax that girl."
So I asked Rain in my best Blackfoot, but she
did not understand it very well. Then it occurred
to Constable Buckie that I might be Pedro in dis-
"Here, you," he asked Rain, "who killed that
cow?" I translated.
Now Rain was afraid of pony soldiers, but
she remembered being iuEulted by her man, and
charged with being a wanton. He should rue that !
"He killed the cow," she answered, pointing at
Tail-Feathers, who lay still unconscious.
"And the pony?"
Again she pointed at the police-interpreter.
"And who killed my Indian scout?"
For answer, she showed the soldier that long red,
burning wale across my shoulder, while her point-
i^.g finger accused the police-interpreter of attempt-
ed murder. "Boy-dnuik-in-the-moming," she said
in Blackfoot, "tell my words to the pony soldier.
Tell him, I say you had no cartridges when this
man tried to kill you."
"She says," I explained, "that I had no ammuni-
tion, and that's a fact, worse luck."
"Tell him," said Rain, "that you clubbed Tail-
Feathers with your medicine-iroa"
THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
I blushed as I translated. "This mighty hero "
she says, "charged like the great chief of all the
buffalo. H,s name is Charging Buffalo, and aU
that sort of stuff, don't ye know."
The Indian began to groan.
Pedro la Mancha. just tell the girl you're both my
"The silly ass." I translated, "thinks I'm Pedro
and so we're prisoners. Isn't it a lark 1"
"She's a nice little piece." added Buckie. "Tell
her to cut up the cow and get supper."
So I sent Rain to get supper, and she went, head
bent, feet dragging, for she was terrified at being
^^ "Pedro." the soldier was unsaddling his horse.
you may play at Indians, but I guess you've been
raised for a lord, or some sort of pet. Say you
won't run. and your word is good enough."
Having nothing to run from, and nowhere to run
to. I readily gave parole. Wild horses could not
have dragged me from that camp with real beef in
"As to this infernal Tail-Feathers." Constable
Buckie looked round. "Hello! Look outi"
The scout-interpreter felt so much better now
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 43
that he was able to sit up with his rifle and take
a pot-shot at my back. I had just time to jump
on his stomach before the thing went off.
Rookie he was, and not over-wise at that, but
Constable Buckie felt that for a scout-interpreter
this Indian was too impulsive. He therefore per-
suaded Tail-Feathers to lie down and take a nap
with contusions, then put the man under what he
called close arrest, tied up like a brown paper parcel,
for delivery to the sergeant-in-charge at Slide-out.
xhe dusk was falling, and big white stars broke
through as the sky darkened. "I reckon." said Con-
stable Buckie wearily, "we've time for a swim be-
So I challenged him to race me at undressing, and
dived into the lake, which was nice and warm for
swimming. When Buckie had shed his uniform, he
joined me, and very soon our troubles were for-
gotten. At nineteen, it is rather hard to be officially
minded after business hours. As for me. I liked
Buckie iirst-rate, because he happened to be a dean-
bred Canadian. I did not know that we should be
chums for life.
Rain was ever a busy little person, and now in the
twilight she made haste to get everything ready.
She cut loose Tail-Feathers, who passed away into
44 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
the gloaming, no longer in anyway attached to the
mounted police. She used his lashings to make
a neat bundle of Buckie's arms and uniform, which
she dropped without a sound into deep water. Then
leaving the supper to cook itself, she adjourned to
an ant-heap a little way from the cmp. where all
alone in the gloom she howled for her poor father.
There was a tang of frost in the air when we
came out chilled, famished and distressed by Rain's
most dismal lamentations. The fire was dead, there
was nothing to eat, and Tail-Feathers had escaped
so it seemed, with Buckie's kit. As to Rain, she
said we were very rude to interrupt her grief. She
was an orphan, and a prisoner.
Wrapped in my painted robe, with chattering
teeth. Buckie St by our fire, projecting schemes
for tracking Tail-Feathers by torchlight and by
moonshine. It was awkward, though, that the
Indian had decamped with both the police carbines,
both their revolvers, ail the ammunition. Even
when comforted with much beef, the pony soldier
trembled at the thought of his doom when he made
official report to the sergeant-in-charge at Slide-out.
Later, in the darkness of the teepee, I heard him
weeping, and at dawn he set out barefoot on some
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 45
futile attempt to track TaU-Feathers. The ground
was then white with frost.
On his departure, Rain sat up, a little heap of
mischief, and whispered across the teepee, "If I
were only freel"
And I yawned back, "What then?"
"I think," she said demurely, "I could find the
She purred. "And make you back into a white
man, Charging Buffalo."
"So you could go and be a pony soldier "
"You saw the red coat, and your eyes were so
hungry! You followed him like a dog, and for-
got poor little Rain. Threw out your chest, sol
and your shoulders, hump I And your eyes, ever
so far away. Then I call, and you yawn, so!
You re tired of Rain, and pkyi„g Indians, eh?"
I made shamefaced objections, blushing hot all
over as I realized at once that what Rain said was
I wonder if other men feel as I do. I can not
look unmoved at a pretty woman, and yet the
46 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
sight of the British scarlet excites me more than
anything else I know of. To speak to a man who
wears it makes me catch my breath. Equally strong
is the appeal to my senses of revolvers, cartridge
belte, long boots, skin clothes or any gear of horse-
manship or wild life. To see these things makes
my heart leap, to use them is a lasting enjoyment,
whereas I have looked on big stacks of gold, or
silver, or treasures of diamonds, without the least
As soon as Rain spoke, I was sick of Indians.
Life was impossible outside the mounted police.
"I only try," she mimicked my voice when I talk-
ed to the Brat, "and take so plenty trouble to keep
you out of meeschief I"
"And if I go for a soldier, what about you?"
"Me?" she sighed. "Oh, I go catch poor Tail-
Feathers. He got no beef."
As a matter of fact, poor Tail-Feathers had come
in the night, had loaded his horse with beef, and
now, well hidden in the cliflfs, was ea, g the same
while he watched Buckie's futile attempts at track-
ing. The soldier came back blue with cold, gray
with despair and only too g^ad when I proposed
that Rain should be free from arrest if she could
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 47
find his dothea. She placed a string in his hands,
and bade him pull. So he hauled the bundle of
arms and clothes out of the lake.
Over a big fire inside the teepee, we hung his
clothes to dry. and after breakfast, while I made
a most careful toilet, a naked constable drafted in
a damp note-book the full official version of his
"How will this do?" he began. '"Dear Guts 1'
I mean, 'Sir. I have the honor to report for your
information that when I made Lane's from infor-
mation received'— from Got-Wet when we hid up
m the bam loft-'to the effect, viz: that o!d Shifty
was up to his usual games, cheating said Pedro la
Mancha out of four months' wages, so Pedro skinn-
ed out with Got-Wet's cow. which didn't belong to
Lane anyway, because Pedro's brother Hosay la
Mancha, a respectable British subject, had gone to
collect the cow for Got-Wet.' So that's all clear -
•Tine," said I, from behind the hanging clothes.
" 'Meanwhile, I sent the interpreter ahead'— so
he wouldn't catch on to Got-Wet and me in the
bam loft— 'with instructions to pick up the cow
tracks, and when I caught up'— Say, old fellow,
don't want to let on that I invaded the damned
48 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Sutes under arms. It wouldn't be good for GuU,
and he'd throw Catherine wheek if he thought I'd
raided Montana. We'll say I caught you up at the
boundary line, 'where my interpreter was shooting
up the cow, the pony and Hosay la Mancha. I
detained the prisoner in dose custody, but he skinn-
ed out' — and you can't see his tail for dust — 'so
I brung in Mr. la Mancha, who wants to take on in
in the Outfit, and have the honor to be, sir, your
obedient servant, regimental number'— I'll have to
look that up— 'David Buckie, Constable.' How's
"Bull's-eye!" So I stepped out from behind the
clothes-line. After all, my dress suit was by a
jolly good cutter in Savile Row, the shirt a bit
nunpled but a decent fit, the pumps and socks quite
new and, nothing paid for. In my best Oxford
manner, I held out the white tie and asked Buckie
to make the bow. "You bally idiot I" I added, be-
;cause he rolled into the fire, singeing my painted
Stark naked, the buck policeman rolled back over
the cooking-pots and prayed to be carried away for
burial. Then he sat up wiping his eyes with my
necktie. "Chee I Now whar hev I put me lavender
kids?" he howled. "Oh, hang my collar on the
THE GLAMOUR OF YOUTH 49
chMidelier while I .wetti Me put. U split from
ear to tu. and it's my night to how-w-ll Yew-
I told him these were all the clothes I had.
"Just turn them loose on Slide-out. Think of
Guts I Why, you ring-tailed. lop-eared coyote, you
can't join Our Outfit dressed like a blasted Comet!"
"What's to be done?"
"I guess I'll cache you in a prairie-dog hole untU
I've stole you a shirt and overalls. AUee samee,
that kit would take first prize for fancy dress at a
ball, or I'm a shave-tail."
Even in those days, Buckie suffered from a re-
spectable soul, which made him a bit of a prig for
routine, a glutton for etiquette, a shop-walker for
deportment, and most maidenly particular about his
clothes. He kept us at work for hours cleaning
kit before he would get into uniform, then mourned
aloud because for all my evening dress I had lost
my opera hat and ought not to go bareheaded. In
the end we departed riding his big horse tandem
with me behind, pursued by Ram's howls, malicious,
derisive, devilish little howls. Were these for her
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD
RAIN was a little brown hen-angel, the half-
grown, all fluffy chicken of a seraph, with a
tang of earth about her, just deceptively human and
alluring enough to tear my heart-strings when she
flew off leaving me to bleed.
To guard her, I forsook my Brat whom I care
for. But when she seemed to love another man,
and laughed a good-by to me I could only go.
A boy may love a maid and yet love life. So I
loved Rain, but not as yet more than I loved my
life. That was to come, but in those days, life was
falling me, yes, tugging hard.
Certain fabuliste have alleged that I joined the
mounted police in evening dress. This is not true,
for when Buckie was escorting me to Fort French,
my place of enlistment, we lunched by the trail-side
with an American cowboy who had a quart of
pickels. Afterward, we played cards, my kit
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 51
staked against his. He won. riding away in my
dress suit with the tie under his oflF ear. and the
near end of the collar pointing S. S. E.. while
through his nose he sang a hymn beginning, "Oh
say. can you tell?"
I still had my broken heart, and a dog, but as tp
the costume in which I joined the police, my modes-
ty forbids particulars.
One of the greatest difficulties in the writing of
this book is that my publishers hs-, ; a craze for
particulars. They say that the story is too vague.
I ought to state the facts. Now if. to take an
example. I give my regimental number in the mount-
ed police. I shall be identified, extradited and hang-
ed just as I have begun to settle down. I have bor-
rowed Buckie's number, a cruel humiliation for
me because he was always so dumed respectable
that he had scarcely any defaulter sheet.
"Regimental Number 1107 Constable la Mancha.
J., is hereby taken on the strength of the Force from
the 20th instant, and posted to C Division."
So read the orderly corporal, standing at the
south end of number two barrack room in Fort
French while I lay on my trestle and purred.
Presently the corporal, announcing details, told
off Surly McNabb. troop teamster, to fetch a load
53 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
of (kmI with me for off man. My purr changed
to a groan.
The bugle was sounding "Last post" with a cold
m its head as the orderly corporal clanked away to
call the roll next door. Then Windy O'Rooke sat
up and shouted he had a dollar to say that "Surly
bucks stiff-legged at taking a blanked rookie on
coal fatigue. It's me he wants."
"Mr. Affable McNabb," said I, "has been using
influence to get me. You cuckoos who steal one
another's ideas think Affable's a morose beast with
a thirst But gentlemen, he has a faithful heart.
My dog to your dollar, Windy, I'll make him deliver
a speech of fifteen minutes."
McNabb intervened with a horse brush, which
I fielded, and returned to its own address. Repri-
sals followed, while I dived under beds capsizing
their peaceful inhabitants. So there was rough-
house for the space of thirteen minutes while I was
partly killed, before the bugle saved me. For at
"Lights out," the room corporal ordered silence.
The lamplight changed to moonlight and a red glow
from the stove, the stampeding of elephants became
a creeping of mice, and Windy sat up m bed for
a long luxurious scratch.
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD S3
Next morning Surly drove his four-horse team
to an outcrop of coal about sixteen miles up the
valley of Old Man's River, and not one word would
he vouchsafe to me. While he watched me load
the wagon he ate his lunch, and smoked for hours
but still said never a word. Once when we start-
ed back toward barracks I thought he was going
to speak, for I asked him politely if he were not
too tired, but he only shouldered me off the wagon
seat so that I lit on my tail i„ a blue pool of
profanity. I had to climb on the tail-board, dead
tired, black as Satan and most frightfully cold
Did you ever try to whistle Te Deum in rag-
t.me? I tried it. with my teeth for castanets, while
I sat m a wind like a scythe and whittled Surly's
grub box into kindlings. Then I made me a lovely
fire m the load of coal, and sang Lead Kindly Light
to cheer old Surly.
When it got too hot, I dropped down and walked
Oh. Paradisel Oh. Paradisel I greatly long to
^^^ ^"aJ[J" •"'* ^"*"'"« Home attempting rep-
54 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
I was begrinning to run short of rhymes when the
horses got a whiff, and aU four of them stampeded
as though there were no hereafter, while Surly
poured forth rhetoric from the midst of that bound-
ing conflagration, mitil he managed to capsize the
wagon. When I arrived on the scene I found him
perched on a boulder still declaiming, so I sat down
to take notes of his benediction. "Please," I would
•^. "I can't do shorthand— what comes after 'lop-
eaied'?" or "Hold dn. McNabl^from 'pigeorn
toed son."' and at last. "Say. Affable, what's the
time? You've preached a good fifteen minutes so
I ve won my dollar bet"
Then Surly grinned for the first time on record,
so I measured the smile with my pencil and noted
It down at five and three-q.uirter inches. At that
the teamster laughed until the tears rolled streaks
down his dusty face.
What with reloading, and too much conversa-
Uon. we got to the post an hour late for supper
So the teamster told the troop cook that I was a
blackguard. Such is the origin of two famous
nicknames, for he was known as Chatter McNabb
and I as the Blackguard as long as we served iii
The affair of the Matrimonial Gazette has grown
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 55
into a regimental myth, but that is due to Rocky
Mountain liars, for whose inventions I do not
claim credit Historically the matter dates from
my first patrol, when a one-horse rancher at The
Leavings gave me a copy of the journal. I made
haste to advertize. I announced myself as a re-
spectable bachelor, considered extremely good-look-
ing and very young, with pretty habits, domestic
tastes, nice manners, a bewitching smile, a romantic
past and enormous expectations. Ladies might
correspond with a view to matrimony, and as my
address was "Fort French, North West Territories,
Canada," they must have felt tiiat distance gave'
them safety. Sixty-eight damsels responded, rang-
ing from fourteen years of age to eighty, and most
of them sent photographs, original or borrowed.
Keeping a dozen beauties for my own consumption,
I sold the rest by auction or private tre^y at
prices varying from ten cents in cash to as many
dollars promised. Each mail brought sixty-eight
love-letters addressed to J. la Mancha, by his
fiancees, and as Cupid's postman I distributed the
ladies according to their post-marks. If two dam.
sels happened to write from the same town, when a
virgin changed her address on going to school or
leaving, when our gallants at Fort French swapped.
56 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
•old, traded, or pawned their dames, or parted with
their dearest girls to settle a canteen biU— then
there was misunderstanding and prospect of a fight.
The claimants for a lady's hand would meet be-
hind the stables while the rest of us made a ring
until the pair found out which gentleman loved
best The correspondence was enormous and con-
In these annals of true love I can only select one
case as bearing upon my story. The little cat in
question claimed to be Mrs. Burrows, widow, of
Helena, Montana, submitted the photograph of a
widowed aunt, and loved Mr. la Mancha with a
headlong passion. I traded her, I remember, to the
troop cook for an L O. U. on a sucking pig for
Christmas. Cook swapped her for a terrier of
three sorts to Sergeant-Major Buttocks. He was
caught by his wife in the act of mailing his irrevo-
cable vows, and finding himself severely repri-
manded, made a hasty sale of the Helena widow,
trading her for a pair of long boots to one of our'
officers. Inspector Sarde.
So far the game went merrily with no harm
done, but now the sergeant-major had to explain
that although he was forever her adoring Jos6 la
Mancha, he was about to change his penmanship.
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 57
This he refused to do because his own wife forbade
him. so I was sent for by Inspector Sarde. At the
troop office I had to concoct a letter. In this I
was Samuel Partington, requested by J. la Mancha
to advise the widow Burrows that he had injured
his right hand while trapping a catamaran, but lyas
learning to write with the left, for what odds if
the fist was awkward so long as the heart was true.
Both the inspector and the sergeant-major were
so delighted that I made them a fair copy while
both of them sat by without suspicions. In this I
explained to the widow how she had been swapped
for a sucking pig, a dog and a pair of boots, her
latest proprietor being Inspector Sarde. The fair
copy was duly posted.
Still all went merrily and no harm was done. But
none of us liked Sarde. With all his undoubted
merits he had a meek and guileful tongue which
curried favor, and a smile a deal more friendly than
his eyes. An officer who creeps in search of popu-
larity is sure to be detested by soldiers, and their
opinion is not far astray.
One night in the barrack room a debate arose as
to whether Inspector Sarde was a gentleman I
took his part and bet a dollar I would prove him
thoroughbred. Next day I addressed a post-card
S8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
to ConstoWe Buckie who wu stiU at Slide-out, and
on the back of it wrote the story of a litUe jest I
had at Sarde's expense. The card was posted at the
orderly room, found by the clerk and shown to
Inspector Sarde. I am sorry to say that Sarde
wad my post-card, and handed it to the officer com-
manding, who refused to look and told him he was
a cad. So it proved by testing that poor Sarde
was not a gentleman,, and I lost my bet. More-
over, from that time onward he was my enemy, a
fact observed by every officer and man in C Divi-
•ion. This was a boy's feud with a man, the quar-
rel of a trooper with an officer, the risks on one
side, the power on the other, and I preferred an
opea breach without any sneaking, free from de-
grading secrecy. Looking back I know I was a
fool, but not unmanly.
In the good old times there was a law of pro-
hibition excluding liquor from the territories lest
it should reach the Indians. In an arid country,
such a law produces unnatural thirst, and even the
most temperate men take a delight in outwitting
a fool government. So the law breeds law-break-
ws. informers, whisky thieves, drunkards, bad
liquor and delirium tremens, promotes the use of
drugs and generally plays havoc with public mw-
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 59
ab. Let any man who doubts my statement ask
the nearest policeman whose duty it is to know the
actual facts, while legislators live in a world of
During a severe winter drought. Inspector
Sarde's mother sent him a case of eggs. As iar
as one could see it was quite in order that Mrs.
Sarde should send twelve dozen eggs to her ab-
stemious son in partibus infidelium, where luxuries
are scarce. They were packed in salt, shipped C.
O. D. by express, forwarded from Fort Benton in
the stage sleigh, consigned per I. G. Baker and
carried to Sarde'!> quarters by a constable on fa-
tigue. That was I.
In course of duty, I just bumped the eggs to see
if they were "fragile" as advertised on the case,
and at once there arose a perfume which no police
constable could possibly ignore. Did hens, I won-
dered, lay eggs filled with whisky? Or having laid
eggs full of meat did the hens blow them, fill them
with comfort, and seal them up with wax? Or had
they matured on the way? Or was an officer, a
justice of thf peace, importing illicit refreshments?
Would they be good for Sarde? Was it not my
duty to save the officers' mess from making a beast
«6 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
I took that case to the barrack room and sub-
mitted it to a board of constables, who pronounced
each several egg to contain more than two and five-
tenths per cent, of alcohol, and resolved to compen-
sate the owner for that disgusting state of intoxica-
tion to which he was no longer liable. The case was
therefore reloaded with a dead cat, and a puppy of
last year's vintage, and a twelve horse-power bou-
quet on which we laid an epitaph in verse.
"Toll for the eggs
The eggs which are no more
All sunk within the Braves
Fast by their destined shore..
We were not in the bottle.
No barrel met the shodt.
We sprang a fatal leak.
We ran on Duty's Rock.
These are but cat and puft
Not alcoholic eggs.
So weigh the vessel up;
Stand firm upon your legs :
Then boil the tea and pass it round
To the Guardians of our Land,
"21 "^ your life it's not our fault
That whisky's contraband !"
Next day at morning stables. Inspector Sarde
being orderly officer, put all the duty men under
arrest for making chicken talk when told to answer
their names. He wid he was surprised.
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 6t
Afterward, at breakfast time, he opened his case
of refreshments, which stampeded the officers'
mess. He really was surprised.
Before office, old Wormy, our officer tommand-
ing, sent for Mr. Sarde. "My yong frien', how
you charge my mans for dronk on catan'puppy,
heinr Or you say dronk on veeskeyegg. Whose
vceskeyegg? Yours? How you come by dose vees-
keyegg? Where you get. heinr Bien, M'sieu
L'Inspecteur Veeskey-smogglel Sacre mo'jew
Ba'teme. Damn I"
So we were all released without trial, but Mr.
Sarde would like to see Constable la Mancha at
his quarters. I told the orderly sergeant that I
was suffering from severe alcoholic depression, but
all the same I was paraded up before the bereaved
"My man," said Mr. Sarde, "you know that a
commissioned officer can not threaten a constable."
I was shocked at the very idea.
"But I may promise. La Mancha, to watch over
your interests like a guardian angel."
I told him he was a tripe hound.
"Orderly Sergeant," said the officer, "you will
note the words used, and place this man under
«» THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
So I got a inonth'i impriionmcnt, and they uy h
wu moM impreMive in the guard-room to hear my
voice in the celli a« I prayed for Sarde.
You may not remember, but an American cow-
boy won my dreaa suit at ca«U. When he
got back to his outfit over in Montwia. he met my
brother, and gave him my address. Then Brat
wrote to me, telling me how on the day we parted
he had struck grub with the Double Crank beef
round-up who todc him on as wrangler, at twenty.
whUe they worked the Kato-yi-six.
This being translated from cow talk into English
means that Brat as he wandered afoot down Milk
River coulfe, came to a wagon where a co<A was
busy molding pies on the tail-board. The co<dc
told Brat that his wagon attended the riders of the
Double Crank ranch, who were collecting beef cat-
tie for shipment on tiie Sweet Grass HiUs of Mon-
tana. They had mislaid the boy who handled their
pony herd, so their foreman, when he rode in at
sundown, engaged my Brat to take the job at twenty
dollars a month.
Moreover, Brat, being a good boy whom I had
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 63
rriRd by hMd, kept hi. job for four month,. «d
b«cu.e he had . wooden tut at poker won. in «1.
d.t.on to his education, wages and board, three
PonJe*. a pair of d»p,. a «iddle and spur, dam-
Mkened with gold. But a, the winter dosed down
•nd spare men were discharged, my brother's heart
filled with dumb yearnings, so he took hi. pay, and
rode «Tos, to Lane's where he showed off h;=
wealth, splendor and success in front of Got-Wet
She very nearly wccumbed.
Along came Buckie on patrol from Slide^wt
very m«rt in a buffalo coat and fur cap, a Russian'
g«nd duke to the vety life with a ruby and dia-
mond engagement ring he had picked up cheap from
a Montana robber.
Brat found himself outnumbered, "by » mere
Cwadiw,, too," and in his desolation blamed the
«ld.er , scarlet serge. He wanted a red coat more
than an else on earth since cowboys were of no
account in the eyes of Got-Wet.
Slick Buckie was no fool. His triumph might
Iwt .ts little hour, but hi, official visits were rare
a, transit, of Venus, whereas the cow-hand, a mere
civilian, could be there aU the time. So he talked
«ductively about the outfit, but doubted if Brat
was old enough to join, or brave enough to face
64 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
a rough career. Oh, he was very doubtful about
vacancies for recruits, and couldn't be bothered any-
way with Brats. They had one La Mancha in C
Troop already, and that was enough in all con-
science with his devilish practical jokes, when he
fired that load of coal, got an officer mixed up with
one of his cast girls, and the whole division drunk
on smuggled eggs. So gently Slick lured his rival
away from the arms of Got- Wet, and got him dul>
enlisted at Fort French a hundred miles from temp-
With Brat in barracks, I felt that my responsi-
bilities were overwhelming. There was so little
room in number 4 cell for setting a good example,
and through the loop-hole in the log wall at the
back it would be difficult to train a young man in
the paths of virtue. Thrice daily I had him up out-
side the loop-hole to see that he cleaned his nails
and had no high water mark about his neck, that he
committed the standing orders to memory, brushed
his teeth, wrote to his mother, threw a smart salute,
and minded his manners when addressing a superior
officer. He must not play cards except with rookies,
or borrow money from chaps who ought to be kept
at a distance, or get acquainted with any beastly
civilians, or make silly practical jokes, or give cheek
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 65
to a blanked inspector, or correspond with girls.
Long years later, he explained to me why he had
been content to stand and freeze while I lectured.
I was all he had in the way of parents, and my voice
reminded him of one which was hushed at the sol-
emn gates of Paradise "except of course," he added,
"when you used bad language."
It was rotten luck for him that I should be in
prison just when he needed me. Nobody else could
be bothered to teach a mere coyote. Nobody, for
example, took the trouble to warn him to have
moccasins in his pockets during a sopping thaw out
on the Milk River Ridge. The patrol were wet to
the waist when they camped, bui by midnight it
was thirty degrees below zero, and the frozen boot
cut the toes off my brother's right foot, laying him
up for two years.
Brat's great soft black eyes seemed always to be
lighted from within, his smile had a haunting ten-
derness. In him I could see my mother, as I re-
member her before she left us.
Rain often used to tell me about her hero, her
elder brother, Many. Horses, chief of the Crazy
66 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Dog hand in the Piegin tribe of the Blackfeet, aad
of his woman, the daughter of the head chief, whose
name was Owl-caIIing-"Coming."
Many Horses stood six foot two, lithe as a whip,
rode like a god, and had the suriy pride of Lucifer.
You may see his likeness, both as to form and color,
in old bronze portraits of Augustus Qesar. But
please take that in profile, because poor Many
Horses had a most sinister spirit Apart, however,
from that, his was an astounding combination of
blessings— youth, health, beauty, grace, dignity,
high rank as a warrior, and virtues so exalted that
I fo«ffld him painful to contemplate. He was a mix-
ture of Bayard, Galahad and the Cid, a knight-
errant of stainless honor who had never seen a joke
in his life, being void of the slightest vestige of any
sense of humor. Among the merry Blackfeet that
man was a freak.
At the time I lay in the cells, this savage gentle-
man discovered my address and came north to kill
me. Ideas with him were very rare events, and in
this one he took the pride of an inventor. But how
could he get inside the fort? A white man had
merely to walk in through open gates, but these
were closed to Indians. He hoped for the vacancy
left by Tail-Feathers of scout-interpreter, but
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD tj
found that the place had been filled by old Beef
Hardy. A clever man would have seen a dozen
ways of getting in, but this hero was stupid as he-
roes are in fiction, so he thought that only as pris-
oner could he gain admittance. To get himself
made prisoner he rode to Stand-off. reined his horse
at the door of the police detachment, made sure
that the boys were watching him through the win-
dows, then fired at their pet dog. So he was
brought as a prisoner to Fort French, and lodged
in the cell next to mine.
Confinement knocks the morals out of any In-
dian, so after the first night this poor chap was
lonely and frightened. I was bored to tears, and
both of us were glad to have a gossip. Thus, before
we had heard each other's names or seen each
other's faces, we were fast friends, whispering
Blackfoot through a knot-hole in the bulkhead.
We talked through Saturday afternoon and Sun-
day, we gossiped in the sign language when out at
work on Monday. By Monday evening, I had
given him full directions for finding and killing
Boy-drunk-in-the-moming, his sister's lover, his
And so he told me the story of Rain's adventures
during the Winter of Death.
68 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
When the buffalo hunting failed, Many Horses
took his women and diildren up into the val-
leys of the World-Spine and there, through the
moon of falling leaves, they had meat in plenty.
But when cold weather came, he and his woman
Owl-calling-"Coming," out hunting far from camp,
got snowed up for more than a week. Only after
much prayer and sacrifices to Old Man were they
able to climb through the soft snow and get a
back-load of meat to their home lodge on Cut-Bank
Creek. And then they came too late.
When Many Horses told me that, I had my eye
at the knot-hole to watch the sign talk. He finished
with a sort of apologetic squint as though he hated
to worry me with trifles. It seems that toward the
end of the long waiting, his little son, aged five,
had moved to the chief's place, facing the door of
the lodge, and there said family prayers with the
sacred pipe in his little frozen hands. So his fa-
ther found him, and the two younger wives with all
the children sat in their places, dead.
Owl-calling-"Coming" ran mad, but Many Horses
got her down to Two Medicine Lake, hoping for
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD
htunan company to lure her spirit back. There they
found a lodge with Tail-Feathers and his woman
Rain, dying of hunger.
It was in a dry, cold, dreary way that Many
Horses answered my questions concerning his sis-
ter Rain. She had married Tail-Feathers because
he wished her to. Now she was very poor, her
property and that of her man being sold for food
in the early days of the famine. Moreover, instead
of hunting, Tail-Feathers would tumble down dead
and lie doggo, until Rain snared a rabbit and he
smelt food. But the big snow had put an end to
Rain's poor foraging, and the man lay doggo while
the woman prayed.
It was then she vowed that if her man got well
she would dedicate a temple to the Sun God. Rain's
prayers were very strong, for sure enough her
brother came with meat, and her man got well. So
she sat for days chirping and twittering like a small
brown squirrel while she fed her man with soup,
and his strength returned. In those days. Owl
thawed to weeping, and her spirit came back to her
When all the meat was finished. Rain's secret
helper came in a dream bidding her send the two
men, Tail-Feathers, her husband, and Many Horses,
70 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
her brother, to steal ponies from the Stone-hearts,
and use them for hunting the white man's buffalo
(cattle). The men obeyed and very soon her lodge
was red with meat.
Now it was time, said Rain, to lay her vow be-
fore the chiefs in council, so they brokt^ camp and
went down to the agency. There they found the
great chiefs begging the agent to have mercy upon
their people, for already a fourth part of them
were dead, and the rest were dying.
But the agent fed their com to his fat chickens,
and said he was grieved at the deplorable supersti-
tions of the Indians. Then the chiefs starved in
council until Rain sent them a pony-load of meat,
so that their hearts were warm, and they consented
to her plea. If the tribe lived at the full moon, in
the moon of falling leaves she should be made
a priestess, and dedicate a temple to the Sun.
"My prayer is heard," she said, in her great joy.
"My man is saved from death, the Sun has given
us food, and the animals will be kind to us and pity
us. In three suns, the wicked agent will be sent
away, and there will be food for all our people."
Three days were scarcely past before a big Stone-
heart chief arrived at the agency, who gave the
com and the agent's chickens to feed the dying
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 71
women crouched beside the gate. The wicked agent
was sent away in shame, and a wagon train of the
Long Knives (United States cavalry) brought food
for all the people. Surely Rain's medicine was very
But as it happened, the trader, Bad Mouth, to-
gether with his woman, and his daughter, Got-Wet,
were staying at the agency, and when they heard
that Rain was to be made priestess of the sun, they
put a rumor about that she was unclean. She had
lived, said Got-Wet, with a white man disguised as
an Indian, aye and traveled with him all last sum-
mer. The chiefs had chosen a harlot to be their
Many there are among us who see appearances
only, who live to keep up appearances, even as a
coffin does with varnishing and brass-work though
that within is something less than man. Tail-Fea-
thers had kept up appearances as became a virtuous
husband as long as Rain's wealth lasted, and now
must make up appearance as an outraged husband,
c-iting his woman out of the lodge which was all
!hat remained of her dowry. She sat in the snow,
her head covered with ashes, hiding her face from
women she had fed, who passed by holding their
noses. Even Many Horses believed her guilty, but
73 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Owl bought her a little lorli^e lest she should die of
For two days the chiefs debated her case in coun-
cil and Many Horses, though he believed her guilty,
would not allow his fellows to accuse ais sister. At
the end, he brought her before them u j'ldgment,
she standing woefully frightened, v ji clenched
teeth and fists lest her timid feet shculd be tempted
to run away.
"Woman," said the Wd chief, Medicine Robe,
"we know that your mysterious power saved your
man from death. We know that your dream fore-
told the coming of the Long Knives with food for
our dying people. We have heard your claim to be
a sacred woman, and we may not deny that right
lest we offend the Spirit in the Sun.
"Yet by our law, no woman may be priestess un-
less her man declares her a wife and mother of
"Your man accuses you of bcioK a harlot He
asks that your nose may be cut off as a warning to
all the people. Come, I promise full pardon if you
Confess your guilt."
"Am I a harlot," Rain answered angrily, "be-
cause I was sister to a helpless, useless boy? Would
^ THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 73
God have spared my man because a harlot prayed?
Would God have sent food to our people but for
this mysterious power virhich is in me? Let God be
my judge I"
The head chief was sorely troubled. "If you are a
harlot," he said, "and we make you a priestess to de-
file the holy ground, to profane the House of the
Sun, your death is nothing to us wL' 1: God stamps
out our fires. Once more I offer mercy. You are
free to go, so we never again shall see your face."
Rain clutched at her breasts with both hands.
"And my baby," she cried, "my baby that is to
come— shall it be called the White Man's Sin? Do
you think I will go away like a guilty woman, and
have my baby shamed? I stay, and in the name of
God, I demand my right to prove myself clean, a
faithful wife, an honorable mother, a sacred
"Then we must open the Sun Lodge," answered
Medicine Robe, 'not by the Blackfoot, but by the
Absaroka rites. Among the Sparrowhawk people
the sacred woman comes up from the river bearing
a fagot of wood, and a bucket of water. She
walks to the Sun Lodge, there to make fire, to boil
water, to keep house for the Holy Spirit."
74 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"I am content," said Rain.
"But," said the chief, "her path is lined on either
side by all the warriors, and they will see that no
woman suspected of foul life shall reach God's
house, for if any man knows that she has sinned,
he must thrust a spear through her body, and all
the men must bathe their weapons in her blood.
"Are you content?"
"I am content."
"In the moon of falling leaves, at the full moon,
the Sun Lodge shall be built at Two Medicine Lake,
and there you shall walk through the lane of war*
riors, to die as a harlot, or to live as a sacred
"And I shall live," said Rain.
Many Horses, being of crossed vision, confused
the issues. He was shocked that his own sister
should be accused, indignant with her for being
condemned to death, but most of all, enraged
against the white man who had caused the scandal.
In his poor stupid heart, his honor was the impor-
tant thing at stake, and not his sister"? innocence
and life. So he came to find me oiat iind kill me,
then take the consequences as became a chief.
"Your sister," I told him, "has two friends, two
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD
champions. So one must be murdered and the other
hanged. Then Rain will have no friends."
He had not thought of that
Our superintendent commanding was painfully
short of men, with half his troop out on the
plains, while the rest had staff jobs exempting them
from duty. At the great ten o'clock parade, the
orderly officers, sergeant-major and orderly cor-
poral would assemble to hear one rookie answer his
name for recruit drill, stable orderly, mess fatigue
and odd jobs. So, at the end of a fortnight's rest
in the cells I received a hint that an apology to In-
spector Sarde would win me back my freedom, to
do half the work of the post. I asked leave to ap-
pear before Superintendent Fourmet, and when I
was paraded at the orderly room, was so jolly glad
to see the old chap again that I could not help smil-
"Prisonnier," said Wormy, "you withdraw the
tripe 'ound ?"
"Yes, sir." I cocked up one eye at Sarde.
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76 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"I wish I hadn't said it"
"Bien! You promise to be'ave?"
"For six months, sir; till the moon of falling
"Eh? Vat you means?"
"Then I'll put in for a pass, if you please, sir,
and blow off steam outside."
Bubbles of suppressed joy disturbed the serenity
of the court. I always find joy pays.
"Return to duty," said Wormy.
"About tur-r-n! Mai;-r-r-ch I" said the sergeant-
But I snatched my forage cap out of his hand,
jammed it on and threw a salute.
"May I speak, sir?"
"You are permit to spik."
"Release the Indian, sir, and let me serve his
sentence. Please, sir, the poor devil's a friend of
mine. He's innocent, and belongs to the South Pie-
gans, so what's the good of wasting government
grub to feed a United States Indian. If he's free,
sir, you won't need a guard."
"Stoff a nonsense. You would be prisonnier!
How you say no guard ?"
"Oh, sir, that's all right. I'll keep the guard-
house dean and lock myself in at night."
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD tj
Dear Wormy loved a joke. "You say zees In-
dians he is ennocent, heinT How you know?"
"I talk Blackfoot, sir."
"Veil done, my boy I Veil done."
"He's in for shooting up a dog. Can't be done,
sir. His rifle used to be mine— so I know it shoots
round comers, and that dog, sir, is all comers.
Why, sir, if you aim at a cow with that old gun you
have to fire backward. The Blackfeet are rotten
shots, anyway, and this man's a champion misser
with a squint. Let him off, sir."
"You offer to serve hees sentence?"
"Can you proof hee's not guilty?"
"You have my word of honor, and his squint,
"Humph 1 You .tan go to your duty."
I cleared out quick lest Wormy should change
his mind, and whistled piercing shrills to Rich
Mixed across the square.
For Many Horses, that day was one of bewilder-
ment. From the interpreter he learned that I was
the very man he had come to kill, that I had offered
to serve his sentence for him, and that he was par-
doned. On his release at sundown I met him out-
side the gates and gave him a long knife, just bor-
78 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
rowed from the cook-house. "You came," said I,
"to kill me. When does the fun begin ?"
For a long time he stood looking down into my
eyes, then swung the knife close to my ribs to see
if I would flinch.
"Frightened?" I asked.
He dropped the knife between us in the snow.
"If I kill you," he muttered, "and they hang me.
Rain will have no friends."
I gave him some tobatco and my pipe. Then we
sat down in the snow and smoked, while some of
the bo>s were jeering at us from the gateway. But
we spoke in signs and in Blackfoot, so that they did
The man's very slow mind was working out new
ideas. "We are Rain's friends," he said, holding
the pipe to the four winds, to sky, and then to earth.
"And we believe," I said, "that she is innocent."
He made the sign of assent.
"You are ready," I asked, ^'to stake your Ufe
that Rain is innocent?"
"You and I," he answered, "are her brothers."
"I was her brother."
"Then," he said, clasping my hand, "I give you
my name, and call you Many Horses. I take your
new name, Charging Buffalo,"
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 79
He oflfered me blood brotherhood, the greatest
honor that one Indian can pay to another. But I
"Vou," said I, "shall be Charging Buffalo, but
I'm too poor to be called Many Horses. My name
shall be No-horses-but-wants-to-owe-for-a-mule."
He shook his head, bewildered, and made the
sign, "No good," flicking his fingers at me. How
dull must life be for men who never see a joke.
"Go," said I, "tell Rain to keep her courage up,
and not to fuss." So I made the moon sign and
the zigzag fluttering down of a falling I "■ "1
will be there in the autumn."
Think of your sins.
What made you a soldier a-serving the Queen,
Ood save the Queen !
C^'J ^.t rr* *^^ '''5" ^''^ t'^'"'^^ °f to-morrow,
Ood save the man who remembers his sorrow
Ood save the man who must mourn for the past
Sundown at last.
Here's rest for the past, and here's hope for the
That is what the bugle said, thrilling the clear
dusk with torrential music, as I came over from
seeing my frozen Brat in hospital. Rkh Mixed
8o THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
I ■ 11
danced ahead on three legs sidewise, while his eyes
worshiped me. For this day he had seen me at
guard mounting, jchosen as cleanest man for com-
manding officer's orderly. The bugle thrilled my
bones, my heart was lifted up to the angel glories,
which followed the sun to his rest, but all the same
to me most beautiful of all things visible were the
glowing scarlet of my own serge jacket, the poised
forage cap, the flash ai\d gleam of my boots, the
silver note of my spurs, as I swaggered across the
parade ground. For five months, I had been a
beauteous example of piety in humble life, and
though I was rather stiff from yesterday's patrol
of sixty miles, both loveliness and virtue were my
portion. Rich Mixed lay on his back to pant with
adoration, and my riding whip flicked him ten-
derly as I passed. For, in that instant, I thought
of Rain. All my hopes, dreams and desire made
throne and clouds and rainbows for her court.
In thirty days more, I was to die for her, and had
no other wish or expectation.
Close in the wake of the bugle music came the
soft, distant, mournful howl of a wolf. That was
Rain's call I
Oh, then I knew I had been too good too long.
With a sigh for departed virtue, I swung off round
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 8i
the stables, dodged behind then- .limbed the ma-
nure heap piled against the stock ., and there stood
looking out across the plains. From somewhere
dose at hand in the dusk, I heard a most seductive
little howl. At that, I sent Rich Mixed home,
dropped lighUy down the outer side of the rampart,
and pounded across the boulder flats tmtil I saw a
little heap of something up against the sky-line.
"Oo-oo!" said the little heap, and "Oo-oo-ool"
I scrambled up the bank of Old Man's River and
whispered: "Is that you?"
Sd I squatted, with ominous cracks at the seams,
on one spurred heel, then lighted a cigarette, so she
might see my little new mustache. "Well," I
puffed, with becoming condescension. "What's up ?"
Of course, I adored her, but with a woman it
never pays to be monotonous, for if she knows ex-
actly what to expect, she loses interest.
"Once, in the very-long-ago-time," she crooned,
in a sing-song voice, "there used to be a queer per^
son called Boy-drunk-in-the-moming."
"Oh, boshl" said I, hating the memory of such a
name. "You mean Charging Buffalo."
"Um?" With one wicked eye cocked up, she
moued at me. And that struck me cold, for she
82 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
had never flirted. "I used to like being kissed,"
and she turned the other cheek.
"You little liar," sr.id I, disgusted, "you never
once let me kiss you, made me swear I'd go to hell
if I touched you. Why, half the time you wouldn't
let me into your lodge, so I had to freeze outside.
And when it was warm, you slept outside yourself.
And when I said I'd let you be my woman, you
went and married Tail-Eeathers."
"Still," she crooneJ, "I like^ your attempts at
kisses, and cuddles, yes, and little wee, tender
scratches round my neck."
The seductive little rogue I And yet how could a
buck policeman in barracks run his own squaw on
fifty cents a day — and keep our wolf pack out of
her teepee — and not be caught by the authorities?
Think of the chaflf, Sarde spying, the fury of the
officer commanding, the disgrace to the service I
Besides, there was something wrong, something
artificial, unreal, unworthy about Rain to-night. It
was not to a cheap flirt I had given the worship
due to my mother, and to the Queen of Heaven.
"Go back to your man," I said sternly, "it's his
job to scratch your neck."
"I come," she purred, "to be your woman."
"I'll see you damned first!" I rose to go.
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 83
Then Rain stood up erect, all pride and joy, hold-
ing a baby at her breast, for all the world like the
great sacred pictures of Our Lady.
"See," she whispered. "My own man, Tail-
Feathers, has a baby son. I nurse this ever-so-small
Two Bears. I love him, oh, so dearly. Isn't he
"The deuce." It wrenched my heart to think
what might have been-my child, my happiness.
"Growls-like-a-Bear. Says 'Woof I Woof!' be-
cause I love my son I"
"Oh, I don't care," said I in a jealous rage. "It's
nothing to me. Once we were sister and brother,
you and I, innocent children playing in camp, and
on the trail, playing at being grown up. You never
were my woman."
Then al' about me in the gloaming, I heard a rip-
ple of laughter, and one by one there rose up out of
the dusk gaunt Indians, trying not to laugh lest
they should seem ill-mannered. One grand old
chief lifted his head, palm forward, to the stars,
making the peace sign. "My son," he said, "I ask
you to shake hands, after the way of your people."
"How !" came the greetings all around me. "How,
Shermogonish! Greeting, soldier! We all want to'
84 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"My son," said the head chief, "you are a Stone-
heart We believe that your tribe are like ghosts,
because you have no hearts, and do not really live.
Because you have no heart, our daughter. Rain, is
My memory flashed back to that world I had left
behind me ever so many weeks ago, to happy par-
ishes in Mayfair and St. James's, where men were
simple and unpretentious, frank and kind. So I
saluted Medicine Robe as one would address a min-
ister of state, expecting a blessing from Mad Wolf
as though he were a cardinal, and felt that Flac
Tail was a retired general who had led an a.my in
battle not so long ago. Then there was Many
Horses, my blood brother. I was so glad to see
"My son," said the head chief, throwing his
robe wide open, disclosing the bow in his hand, the
arrows at his belt. "I came to kill you. It is well
I waited. You will eat in my lodge ?"
I said I was hungry enough to eat the lodge.
So they escorted me, walking in single file, with
feet straight to the front, as softly shod people do,
lest they should bruise their toes against the trail
edge. When we came to the lodge, the head chief
took his seat with his guest and the men on his left.
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 85
his wife and all the women on the r.'tht. We had
an Absaroka sausage, full of intere-. and excite-
ment as a haggis. Chicago bully beef, and a dish
of berries, with graceful acts of tribute to the gods,
and the decorous ceremony of the pipe to follow.'
Then Medicine Robe, as host, spoke with a tender
irony of the white n^en, but said that some were
straight even as Rising Wolf, his oldest friend. For
Charging Buffalo had given courtesy to Rain, his
daughter, and lately delivered Many Horses from
Mad Wolf spoke ne::t with grave sweet dignity.
saying that his prayers were answered as to Rain.
They knew her powerful medicine came of a pure
life, and as a sacred woman she would bring good
fortune to the people.
But Many Horses said, "Let us wait till after the
storm before we dry our clothes. Seme of the
chiefs are seeking my sister's death, and her own
man has sworn to kill her at the Medicine Lodge.
I ask my white brother to attend the holy rites of
the Sun God, and tell the people he has dons no evi!
to our sacred woman."
On this, the white brother made his first speech
in Blackfoot, with a strong foreign accent, some-
what to this effect: "I've been most frightfully
■ t- n
86 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
good for five whole moons, because I'm putting in
for a pass in civvies, for the moon of falling leaves
on urgent private business; and the Great White
Chief, Old Wormy, will have to stretch his heart to
the size of a kit-bag before he'll trust me out of
sight in the dark. His heart is small this week,
because somebody stuffed his parrot till it bust.
"Unless he believes I bust his bird, I think he'll
be all right. My little brother. Brat, has lent me
his cowboy kit. I'd have his horses, too, but Brat
lost them at poker to the hospital orderly. Look
here. Many Horses, your white brother wants you
to come with a spare pony, and show me the way to
"It is good," sighed my blood brother, who dis-
liked lending his ponies.
"All right," said I, "that sausage has made my
heart warm to my Indian fathers," I waved my
hand to the women, "and aunts, and things. I'll
be on hand at the medicine joint to speak with per-
sons who talk bad about Rain, and I've put in five
months' pay at revolver practise.
"Now look here, you chaps, excuse my country
manners, but that's 'First post' sounding in barracks
now, so I'll have to run like a rabbit to be in time
for roll-call. If I'm late, I'll be disemboweled and
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 8;
fined five dollars. So long. Chief. Cheer up, lit-
I bolted, leaving the Piegan chiefs to preserve
their ceremonial gravity, while the women rocked
and sobbed with hysterical laughter.
On the eve of my furlough, "to attend the fu-
neral of an aunt at Billings," I was accus-d by
the sergeant-major of bursting the esteemer rreen
parrot of my commanding officer; and for giving
cheek got one month confined to barracks.
Also the Brat, in an attempt to win back his
horses, played cards with the hospital orderly, and
whereby he lost his cowboy kit, a residuary inter-
est in Rich Mixed subject to owner's decease, a
three-pound pot of greengage jam and my new pri-
To crown all, I was warned for mess fatigue, so
that when I bolted I would be missed at daybreak.
Thus dogged by undeserved misfortune, I as-
suaged my grief by playing tards with the hospital
orderly. If he won, he was to have two black eyes,
an inflamed nose and a complete set of fractures,
as shown on a chart in the surgery. Perhaps this
88 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
medicine man preferred not to be greedy, for he
lost three horses, a cowboy kit and stock saddle, a
.38 seven-chambered blue Merwin and Hulbert re-
volver with adjustable three-inch and six-inch bar-
rels, a pot of jam, a residuary interest, thirty-two
dollars and seventy-five cents in cash, and the cook's
I. O. U. on a sucking pig.
Much soothed, I addressed a private note to the
(commanding officer, in which I told him that I had
not spoiled his parrot, but tendered in its place a
tame whisky-jack, who could swear in French al-
most as well as himself. With regard to breaking
barracks and being absent four days without leave,
I felt bound to do so on a point of honor, but left
Rich Mixed as a pledge of my return to take my
The letter, the whisky-jack and the dog were to
be delivered after breakfast, when Wormy was al-
The moment after roll-call, I told the corporal of
my barrack room that I had an appointment to
smash up the man who had busted old Wormy's
parrot. As it transpired, I had already done so,
but the corporal seemed pleased, and would not
expect me back before he fell asleep. At the sta-
bles, I changed into cowboy kit, then took my newly-
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 89
won saddle to the manure heap, where I dropped
it outside the stockade, and jumped down myself.
Many Horses was waiting with his ponies, and so
I saddled one and we rode away, bound for the
herd camp. There lived Brat's ponies which I had
won from the hospital orderly, but the event of
stealing them fell quite flat, since they were now
my property. My blood brother's Indian silence
got rather on my nerves.
We rode breast-deep in a silver mist, while the
moon came glowing like a coal above the frosty
levels in the East, and swung the stars blind across
the awful silence. Once in two hours, we rested
and took fresh horses, at times would flounder
through some deadly river, or pass a sleeping herd
of the range cattle, or clatter down the steeps of
hills invisible. Then the slow dawn merged into
frosty daylight, while on our right Chief Moun-
tain, a snow-draped cube of limestone, captain of
the Rockies, glowed in the sun's red glory as he
rose. We passed the Medicine Line and entered
the United States, quite safe from all pursuit.
Toward noon, when a hundred and ten miles
had given us a taste for food and sleep, Mount
Rising Wolf was high against the sun, edged with
an icy silver to where its wall fell sheer into blue-
90 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
gray shadows. Then, while the ridged and fur-
rowed plain still seemed to sweep straight on into
that shadow, with staggering abruptness a valley
opened right before our feet, miles wide, of lake,
meadow and timber. We looked down, through
scattered Douglas pines, upon a circle of teepees a
mile in girth, each tawny lodge of bison hide painted
with unnatural history animals, rows of dusty stars,
or symbols of lightning, flood, or a protecting spirit.
The smoke of feasts went up from within the
lodges, the children played about them, gamblers
squatted chanting over the stick game, crowds in
their gayest best watched some old battle played by
warriors, and round the tent-ring crept a gorgeous
procession of mounted men, singing some tribal
Midway between tamp and lake, stood a tall post,
whence dangled a faggot of sticks, and round it
was a circular fence of branches sloping inward as
though to form a dome, not quite roofed over. This
was the Sun's house, completed after four days of
ritual preparation, and now awaiting to-morrow's
dedication. Facing its east doorway. Rain kept
the long fast, attended by celebrant priests and sa-
Many Horses unloaded his pack pony, and after
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 9,
making pmyer set out a scrap of looking-glass and
an array of face paint, to put on symbolic colors,
with all the gravity of a white nun busy shaving
Next he adorned his war-horse, who showed much
pnde and joy. Last, he put on his own ceremonial
dress-a quilled and beaded buckskin war-shirt, em-
broidered moccasins, leggings fringed with scalp
locks, a coronal of eagle plumes and a painted robe
-each with its proper formula of prayer, as befit-
ting the whole armor of righteousness, which we
Christians have abandoned since it went out of
fashion. I helped him reload the pack horse, and
then he passed me riding his war-horse after the
manner of the French haut Ecole. No horsemen
m the world rival the plain's Indians in grace, or
the Blackfeet in strength, beauty and majesty of
bearing, and Many Horses, noblest of all the Pie-
gan leaders, looked gravely pleased with his mag-
nificence. As we rode down the hill, for all my fine
cowboy gear, I felt mean and common, consigned to
the lower classes. One would have thought this
gallant and not myself had come to challenge the
nation as Rain's champion.
My reception at the chief's lodge was an affair of
long and gracious procedure, which I marred by
chewLig a dried cow-tongue, and finally spoiled by
92 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
going off to sleep with the meat in my mouth, and
rude growls when disturbed. While still I slept,
More Bears, the dignified public crier, drummed his
tound of the camp with my challenge.
"Listen, all people, to the words of Charging
Buffalo, adopted s^ n of Medicine Robe, brother of
"Who says I slept with Rain ? Who says the sa-
cred woman is unclean? Let him meet me in sin-
gle combat to the death, or wash his mouth and
keep himself free from slander.
"Does Tail-Feathers wish to prove his woman a
harlot ? Let him come to the meadows at sundown
and make his words good, or hold his peace for-
When the sun was nearing the World-Spine,
Medicine Robe made me wake up for coffee, dog
tired, stiff and famished, feeling the sick reluctance
toward life of some client in a dentist's anteroom,
or prisoner given a nice breakfast prior to execu-
tion. Presently, I was to be taken out and shot by
Tail-Feathers, champion rifle-shot of the Blackfoot
nation. I wished I were somebody else, anybody
anywhere else, yet managed to conjure up a pale
ard dismal grin when Many Horses arr^'ed, lead-
ing his painted war-horse and bearing his splendid
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 93
war-dress as gifts for his white brother. In return,
I gave my cowboy kit and the three ponies, quite
sure I would not need them any more. Then I sat
cross-legged, forcing myself with sick distaste to
eat, while I made lamentable jests to shock my
Many Horses had just seen Tail-Feathers in a
frightful passion, showing the people how he could
shoot at full gallop using his carbine with one hand
like a pistol. Kinsmen were rallying to his support,
whole clans were painting *hemselves for war, the
duel might well be prelude to a battle, and the
whole outlook was extremely black.
"Don't cheer me up any more," said I, thrusting
the food away. My shoulder ached where Tail-
Feathers, with a very long shot, had creased my
hide only a year ago.
The Piegan chiefs drifted in, each leaving his
horse at the lodge door, to join the solemn gather-
ing a-.d profound misgivings, while I twiddled my
small revolver, and showed them the tiny pellets
with which I proposed to fight. Flat Tail granted
to lend me a roer, a young cannon warranted at
five feet to split a grizzly bear. Iron Shirt, the sar-
castic, told me I'd best clear out. Medicine Robe
proposed that each chief raUy his clan for a display
94 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
of ovc. whelming force, lest there be civil war. Cut
I explained that little medidne-irons like my small
revolver had all the fierceness of the biggest cannon
full of compressed ferocity, the same as with small
d<^s. I sent a boy with one of my cartridges as a
gift to Tail-Feathers who, seeing its smallness,
would not run away. That set the chiefs to laugh-
ing, and I went on chaffing until I had them happy.
The honor of the outfit ,was in my keeping, the
honor of the flag, the honor of my race. I pity
cowards who daily undergo such fears as I had
then, and suffer the throes of death without gain-
ing death's release.
Five months of daily practise at the cost for am-
munition of nearly all my pay had proved to me the
virtue of my little killing gun up to three hundred
yards. For small targets it outranged my oppo-
nent's carbine. Besides, 1 7:ad filed a cross on the
head of each bullet to make it spread like a mush-
room, large enough to put a bear out of action.
That is against the rules of war, so let the critic
judge me who has faced the odds himself, and with
his lone gun challenged the champion of a savage
tribe in face of all his kinsmen.
Nothing had I to say about the range of my
weapon, and as to my practise, it was not wise to
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHCXJD 95
brag. Only by striking awe into the hearte of the
Blackfoot nation could I save the woman they had
sworn to sacrifice.
Tne chiefs were busy helping me to dress, chant-
ing the prayers which go with sacred garments, and
with a strange thrill, I felt that these men loved me..
They roused within me the knighthood of my fa-
thers, that ancient chivalry which inspired men to
fight for the honor of ladies.
And now I remembered my spiritual ancestor,
the knight of the sorrowful countenance, el Seiior
Don Quixote de la Mancha. I laughed with tri-
umph as the chiefs fell back when I stood robed
and armed. Then I breathed the Ave in prayer to
Our Lady, the great Queen of Heaven, whom I
served, defending Her woman. Rain.
The chiefs formed my mounted escort as we rode
through the camp, then past the Medicine Lodge,
and that small booth where little Rain sat praying.'
The big empty meadow was before us now, and
here on our right were all the people massed upon
a hiUside, the women and children like great beds
of flowers, the men in clusters, mounted, their war-
plumes at large upon the breeze. On our left, a
solemn grove of trees in autumn gold curved with
the blue lake into a haze of purple against the
96 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
mighty cliffs and snow-fields of Mount Rising Wolf
poised like a cloud in the windswept blue of heaven.
Ahead, the low sun filled the meadow with a dust
Then came a sudden impassioned roar of warn-
ing from the people, the chiefs behind me stam-
peded to either side dear of the line of fire, and
out of the gold haze swept a rolling globe of dust.
Then there was silence, 'save that the dust globe
scattered, revealing the earth-devouring rush of a
When danger comes at full gallop, there is no
time for fear. The brain works at lightning speed,
the exalted senses live a.i hour within each flying
second. To shoot from the saddle? But would
this horse I rode stand fire ! To gallop for position
broadside to that glare? Why make myself a tar-
get! To dismount, for cover and steady aim be-
hind the horse? Most certainly. The turf was
quivering. Can't see the man! Only fluttering
p! .mes above the dust. Can't see his horse— but
only that blur of black. Point the forefinger along
the barrel, closing the hand. Onet
Tail-Feathers fired also. His bullet whirred quite
Point, closing the hand-Two! Agiix^Three!
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD 97
Down went the Indian's horse with a shattered
shoulder, while the man came sailing on a long
curve through the air, head down— smashing to
earth on the nape of his neck— while the dust rolled
away. There he lay black against the glare, head
twisted horribly aside, legs twitching— stark now
in the rigor of death.
I swung to the saddle and pricked gently forward,
gun covering my enemy lest he show signs of life.
The palms of my hands were sweating, my body all
a-tremble, heart jumping, brain reeling, in a great
roar of voices. Why were the chiefs yelling as
they closed round me? Like a hurricane, the Pie-
gan warriors, thousands strong, came charging at
me, firing at me, swirling round me with uproar,
like tumbling waters— distant waters— the rush of
some far-away rapids— or rain at night. When
my head cleared, the head chief, in a blaze of pas-
sion, was roaring at the mob : "Silence! Fall back I
Who fights my son, fights me I
"Silence! Silence! Hear me! That liar defamed
his woman, fouled his own lodge, slandered the holy
servant of the Sun, insulted God— and died!
",You saw him die— not in fair fight, but trying
to steal an advantage over my son, who fought
with the glare in his eyes.
98 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Are there any more liars here to slander eur
sacred woman? One at a time — icome, liars! My
son and I and all your chiefs, are ready to do battle.
"You, Thtmder-Brooding, will you dare to fight
me? You helped raise the slander. Fight, or take
your shame back to your lodge, you dog-faced cur.
The crowd was breaking, sullen, cursing me for
a Stone-heart, muttering 'at their chiefs, while the
mother and sisters of Tail-Feathers began to wail
for their dead, appealing for vengeance.
"My son," said the big chief tenderly, "the an-
ger of the people turns on you, and my young men
are very hard to hold. We chiefs will be your es-
cort until we get you safe out of this crowd, and
your brother. Many Horses, will ride with you to
I was not allowed to see the sacred woman.
There was the Union Jack ablaze up in the
sunshine above the gray stockade. The bugler was
sounding "Evening stables"; the duty men would
assemble, ntmiber off, number by fours, march to
the stables, break, and tend the horses. It was
THE AGE OP KNIGHTHOOD 99
all exactly as usual, the commonplace of life, the old
routine, the dear familiar duty, the knowledge of
days to come shaped in the very pattern of '" lys
past— even if one dropped in from another world.
Attended by Many Horses. I rode in past the
Eleven poor devils were on parade in the brown
canvas fatigue dress, with brushes and curry combs.
The orderly corporal was calling the names, he and
the sergeant-major in scarlet undress uniform, the
fat Inspector Bultitude in black undress, with a sa-
ber. I tumbled off my horse and leaned against him
reeling, then braced myself to attention and saluted
—the back of my hand touching the great rustling
coronal of eagle plumes, as I faced that staring,
grinning and convulsed parade.
"Come, sir," I reported, "to give myself up."
"Drunk I" Bultitude burbled at me. "Bur-r-rl
Disgrace! Take that bur-r-r— man to the guard-
room, shove him bur-r-r— Cells."
"Consider yourself," said the corporal, taking me
by the arm.
The air ws-i all gray fog, and the corporal's voice
was very far away. "Come, chuck a brace! Stand
up, man." The ride of two hundred and twenty
miles within two days had overtaxed my strength
loo THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
The gray fog went back, against the walls of
old Wormy's drawing-room, and /he hospital ser-
geant said I was all right He gave me more
braiiu^ and I sat up quite welL
The superintendent commanding stood with his
back to the stove, and Beef, our interpreter, was
questioning Many Horses. My Indian brother
spoke, at first with a shy dignity, then with warmth,
as he told how I had savjcd Rain's life, and lastly
with power, as he strung wild flowers of native
rhetoric pronouncing a message from his chief.
When he forgot his lines, I prompted him in whis-
"From snake-tongued agents, land thieves, and
Colonel Baker we turn in our despair to the white
North. We know that the fires of the north mm —
(the northern lights) can never give us warmth,
but only portend the storm. Yet we put up our
hands to that glow and feel some comfort from
men who never lie. The world is very dark for
Indian people. To show our hearts toward the
mounted police, we send your warrior back as our
adopted son, with the name, the dress, the ra:iK of
a Blackfoot chief."
You know how a horse has a child's brain with
a saint's character. My Indian brother was like
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD ,o,
that, with intellect enough to run « errand, and
m«je.ty of character that made him wem more than
humaa He .poke for a conquered and dying peo-
ple, who yet were a master race more spiritual than
ours. Perhaps, in the life to come, we may be their
Wormy shook hands with the envoy and gave
back a hearty message to his brother chief, then sent
off Many Horses to receive the hospitality of the
Tue old man sat down, glaring at me. for we were
"You begin." he said, in his native French patois.
by bunung my coal wagon, you make of my fort
a matrimonial scandal, you steal Monsieur Sarde'-
^g-box you explode my parrot, you call me
Wormy behmd my back, you rogue, you write that
impudent letter, and break barracks, you mix with
those savages to bring disgrace on the force, you
n-n away to kill an American Indian and embroil
me m an international row with those infernal
states, and then you come back dressed as an Indian
chief to turn my troop upside down, looking so
I tried to look like an orthodox police constable
>n a scrape.
I02 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Please, sir," said I in French, "I gave you my
word I'd be good for six months, and I've been too
frightfully good. The time was up, sir, on Mon-
"But my parrot?"
"I thrashed the man who did that."
"I see. You can not betray a comrade. Still, I
should like to know. It was so mean."
"You'll know, sir. He'll be the first deserter.
We're driving him out of the force."
"My boys don't hate me, then?"
I couldn't answer. He had brought up tears
which I had to swallow, for we loved him.
Then he tried English. "Tink yourself, boy. Le
bon Dieu. He send my wife no child, an' ze pay —
not too mcch for buy tings at Hodsonbay Com-
pagnie, so? We haf not the life of luxury. Vot
haf we but zee troop, an' my leetle 'orses, eh? So
you call me Wormy."
"English for Fourmet, sir."
"Men, sir, without nicknames don't ccant.
They're not worth counting when there's trouble
THE AGE OF KNIGHTHOOD
"They call you Blackguard."
"Then," he flashed round at me. "why you behave
lak dam' baby, eh?"
And I flashed back, "Were you never young?"
The grizzled superintendent blushed with pleas-
ure. "I took on," he said, "as constable— Regi-
mental Number Six, the Constable Fourmet. But,
my boy, I try. So you ? Pooh ! You burn my fort
next 1 So you go to headquarters."
"Oh, not that, sir!" I pleaded. "Can't you pun-
ish me here?" For I thought of Rain.
"And I shall miss you." he sighed "Je suis Can-
adien. I, too. was le beau ieigneur. So I lak not
to loose a gentUhomme from my troop.
"Now you caU me old fool, eh? Go ron away—
change you your clothes. Vitel An' to-morrow you
report at orderly room to take your medicine."
So we shook hands, and for once in my wicked
life I shed tears of remorse.
I had sinned against the discipline of the force,
attacking the foundations of the public safety.
I had disturbed the serenity of the Blackfoot
nation, the most formidable savages on earth, at a
time when our weak settlements lay at their mercy.
While in the Canadian service, I had killed a sub-
104 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
ject of the United States, and nations have been em-
broiled in war by trifles less than that.
It was Superintendent Fourmet's duty to expel
me from the service, and deport me from the
Oh, well for me if he had done !;is duty. With
Rain my wife, we might have ' /ed in honor, help-
ing to save a dying people before it was too late.
I am an aristocrat for the same reason that a
wolf is a wolf, and hold equality to be an illusion
of the uncouth. And as a wolf will mate with wolf.
Rain was my natural partner.
But we were held apart by an unnatural conven-
tion, that horrible fetish respectability, god of the
Anglo-Saxons, enemy of Christ, forever forging
chains for free and liberal spirits, parting honest
lovers, selling virgins in marriage to beasts, and
vending dean men to most unholy women. The
temple is profaned by all who buy and sell their
bodies in wedlock or without, but most of all by
the respectable, who bind us with chains most griev-
ous to be borne, and where Christ gave us the one
commandment — Love, dare to forbid the banns.
THE SWING OF ev:;nts
BEFORE I left Fort French on my way to regi-
mental headquarters I promised old Wormy
to lead a better life. The first duty then was to
provide for my Brat in hospital; so I raffled my
war-horse, and sold oflf by public auction a dozen
damsels to whom I had been postally engaged;
then lost the whole of the money at cards with the
hospital orderly. So I said good-by to Brat.
Parted from all my vices I felt like an empty
box, all chiaroscuro and good intentions, yet in the
stage sleigh caught by a two days' blizzard it was
really too cold to reform. That autumn storm was a
hundred and eight miles long from its tail at Fort
French to its nose at Fort Calgary with a hundred
degrees of cold and the nip of a crocodile. Then
at Fort Calgary I had to wait in barracks, for the
unfinished Canadian Pacific Railroad ran trains.
ip6 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUi»RD
weather permitting, or when the driver was sober.
Anyway, I had time to lose my sustenance money
over a game of poker, and when Rich Mixed and
I got (HI board the train we had nothing to reform
with except a tin of crackers. We were beastly
pinched on the six hundred mile crawl east to Regi-
na, the mounted police headquarters.
I had rather looked forward to seeing civilization
after some eighteen months of the other thing, but
the train was jammed with men coming down from
the construction camps in the Rockies and most of
them had forgotten to take a bath. The floors of
the cars were swamped with tobacco juice, the
stoves were red, there was no ventilation. The air
made my head swim, and Rich Mixed was taken
I had been pining for company, but — well, there
were some Canadians — fine chaps, pla>ing cards,
the stakes in hundreds of dollars. I could only af-
ford to look on for half a minute.
There were American commercial gents, pale,
high-pitched, talking millions and millions of dol-
lars. I could not afford to listen.
Then there were navvies busy getting drunk, and
even their talk never went as low as ten cents. They,
too, were above my station. I even heard a man
THE SWING OF EVENTS 107
say, "Catch on to all that for fifty cents a day!" I
could not teU him my pay was fifty-five cents.
That was when I stood up to take off my buffalo
coat, and all the people stared at the red tunic
Somehow these good folk did not belong to my
tribe, but I did not know till then that the red coat
shuts off the world like a wall. Only I felt they
ditpised me, so I blushed. It was as though a flock
of sheep stared with contempt at a collie, and that
made me grin.
The better half of me is Irish, sharing the same
heritage with every British Tommy, every British
bluejacket, every British irregular on the far flung
frontiers. Even the English feel it, whose hearts
are like cold fish, the glamour of the service, the
magic, the witchcraft, the religion of this justice-
under-arms guarding a fourth part of all mankind
from war, keeping the peace of the seal Spain
was, England is, and Canada will be, a power
snatching fire from Heaven to yield the peace of
el Etemo Padre. Santissima Maria— I belonged to
Oh, but it was more, a great deal n >re. In the
frost of the window beside me there was a patch of
clear glass, and I could see a cloud race past the
moon, above the driving surf of the snow-sea, while
io8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
the blizzard battered and thundered, hilf lifting our
train from the rails. I wanted to be back where I
had been, riding storms. I belonged there, I be-
longed to that.
If we who serve with the colors under Old Glory
or the Union Jack were serving for pay the public
enemy could buy us for more pay. Could you bar-
gain with us in terms of cash for the austerities of
actual service, disease, wdunds, death?
"Credo in unum Deum," roared the storm. "Om-
nipotentem," roared the storm. "Creatirem Coeli,
et terrae," roared the storm. I and the storm were
servants of one God. I knew then that never while
I lived could I belong to a civilization which meas-
ures life in dollars.
I was at a castle in Spain tipping the groom of
the chambers with one raw oyster in his extended
palm, when Rich Mixed woke me up with his cold
nose in my hand. The dawn was breaking, the
train had pulled up at Moose jaw, and there was a
new passenger approaching, al! furs, frost and fuss.
The men in the car were stretched or coiled on the
seats, like corpses in the wan gray light of morning.
The only empty place was the one which belonged to
my dog, so he was saying in dog talk.
THE SWING OF EVENTS 109
"Ur-rl Gur-r-rl" which means: "Isn't he poi-
sonous. Don't let him take my seat. Yur-r-rl"
So I took Rich Mixed on my lap and said, "Sit
on your tail, my septic friend."
Yet this person must needs argue about seats
farther on, so the brakeman called him a fool and
walked off. It seemed to me, though, that this un-
wholesome stranger shied, not at the dog but at me
So I told him I was only a policeman, and the dog
was most particular as to what he ate. The man
As yet I had no suspicions at aU, but the person
must needs explain a lot of stuff about being a pho-
tographer and making good money with pictures
of mountain sceneries. That set me wondering,
for If he came from the Rockies, why should he
board the train five hundred miles out on the plains?
And if he really was a photographer, he should have
the camera tripod, slide box and that well-known
"Cur-r!" said Rich Mixed.
Where had my decent dog met this liar who shied
at police? My septic friend was a town scout, so
the only town where the dog could have known him
would be Winnipeg. Then I jumped the rest of the
Tiray to that House of the Red Lamp, the place
no THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
where this book began, where Rawhide Kate had
shown me a photograph of her husband — thi» very
man — a circus artiste with a breast of revolting
decorations, and a brace of revolvers — Jonathan
Withal, King of Guns. Afterward, I remembered,
he murdered Rawhide Kate. The police descrip-
tion mentioned a wen on his neck and oddly enough
this duck sat in his fur coat with the collar up while
he sweated. Besides he k^pt his hands in the side
pockets, and by the bulge, it was guns. He had
You know how one thing leads to another. We
talked about Rich Mixed. Then I got confidential,
telling him all about my dog's half-sister. Biscuits,
and he told me exactly how much money he made.
So I was envious, sick of the police, proposing to
desert, tliat I might take to drink and photography
which in his case were such a success. But he ex-
plained through his nose how some folks being
prejudiced jest nachurally couldn't see the differ-
ence between a drinkin' man and a drunkard where-
as he could take it or leave it alone: that's what,
although there's some as would figger five dollars
a day for drinks as coming rather steep, yes, sir,
but them's cheap men. As for him he wanted me
to know that he was bad, and wild, all hard to curry
THE SWING OF EVENTS x 1 1
and full of fleas and could shoot the spots out of the
ten of clubs at a mile.
He paused, giving me time to admire.
Then he mentioned a bottle right here in his va-
By that time I had caught a strong Amurrican
accent, yes, siree, and owned his talk made me
thirsty, although one drink of the real quintessence
would put me under the seat dead drunk, because
I'd just recovered from hydrophobia.
Out came his hands from his pockets which made
me real proud to have his confidence, you betcher
life. Then the patient turned round to open his
valise while I grabbed his collar and wrenched it
(iown, locking his elbows behind him until I tied
his thumbs together with a string.
He wanted to give a display of fireworks, but
couldn't reach his guns. So I had to tell him not
to say things I was too young to hear.
"Jonathan Withal," said I, when we were settled
down again. "I arrest you in the Queen's name.
You will be charged with the murder of your wife,
and I warn you that anything you say will be used
The episode was sordid, its memory has become
unpleasant, and it would not be mentioned here
iia THE C31EERFUL BLACKGUARD
but for the iuue which altered the course of my life.
I had been sent as a bad character for a course of
recruit drill and discipline at headquarters, but ar-
rived at Regina with a prisoner who was in due
course committed to trial for capital felony at Win-
nipeg. I was sent as escort to give evidence of ar-
rest, and pending the trial and hanging was posted
to our detachment at Fort Osborne just outside that
city. Afterward I remained on detachment during
the early winter.
During those few weeks at Winnipeg I had a
couple of letters from my Brat who had taken to
crutches and felt able-bodied. He told me that
there was some rumor of Sarde getting married.
The inspector had bought an engagement ring, also
a girl's fur cap and coat which had gone by the
stage sleigh to Helena where Widow Burrows lived.
He had applied for transfer to depot at Regina as
being nearer to civilization. My friend Buckie was
in from Slide-out Detachment and was going on
prisoners' escort to Regina.
In response I sent Brat my first poem, in celebra-
tion of Sarde's alleged engagement to Widow Bur-
THE SWING OF EVENTS 1 13
When the artful Meringue
Met the gay Macaroon,
And they sighed, and then sang
In the light of the moon—
'Twas there! 'TwasthusI 'Twas then
1 met my first, my only love.
'Twas warm !
One day I was on sentry at the gate of Fort Os-
borne when a tramp came along the street, a bare-
headed, red-haired hobo shivering in remnants of
a jersey and broken down sea boots.
"I'd been in Roosia once," he told me afterward,
"and you made me think of a Roosian grand dook
I'd seen reviewing troops— wot chanct 'ad I eot
eh?" * '
I remember being very comfy in fur cap, short
buffalo coat, long stockings, moccasins, and my belt
of burnished brass cartridges in the sunlight shone
as a streak of blazing light. I asked the freezing
sailor if he wanted to take on in the force. For
answer he gulped at me. so I pointed out the way to
the recruiting office. "Second door on the left.
Good luck to you."
A few minutes after the tramp had gone to his
fate a municipal policeman arrived, one of the fa-
mous Winnipeg giants. He inquired after a red-
haired hobo, who was badly wanted for kicking a
114 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
booking derk of the Canadian Pacific through the
office door which happened to be shut. The clerk
was being removed to hospital.
Yes, I remembered seeing a person with red hair
—of course, the very man. Ten minutes ago he
had passed going toward Red River in a parachute.
The Winnipeg police giants are ponderous of un-
derstanding and sensitive to chaff.
The guard-house was not in use, and the men on
guard lived in the barrack room. So there I was
when, after my relief, I lay on my trestle half
dressed, doing bed fatigue, my dog asleep beside
me. Yes, I was eating dates when Red Saunders,
the sailor hobo, came out from the medical ordeal.
"Hullol" I called. "What luck?"
'They snapped me up!" cried Red, and at that
the corporal of the guard, who was playing c"ds at
the table, looked up laughing.
'"Ere!" Red seized the corporal by the collar,
"come and 'ave yer 'ead punched !"
"Two, four, six," said the corporal over his cards,
"and a pair, eight"
"Carrots!" I shouted. Red forgot his corporal
and hastened across to destroy me. "Dates, I
mean," said I gently, holding out the bag. "Sit
THE SWING OF EVENTS ' 115
here on my bed; Rich Mixed i, only .narling for
effect Won't bite. Too full to hold another mouth-
fill. Do you knaw. Red. that the genUeman over
there is your luperior officer?"
"How true. Yet for touching even a chaffy cor-
poral the punishment is death."
"'E insulted me 1"
"Death. Court-martialed and shot at sunrise,
then buried in the dogs' churchyard with a dreadful
epitaph. After that you'd be punished for kicking
that clerk into hospital."
" 'E can't 'and me over to the police," Red low-
ered at the corporal, " 'cause we're shipmates now
"That's so. We've all got to behave as shipmates,
and we mustn't scrag the bosn."
"I can take an 'int." quoth Red, who was gulp-
ing down the dates, stones and all. "I sai— wot
d'ye think the josher said in there? Axed me my
catechism, s'elp me, and I 'ad to write the answers.
" • 'Ad I served before? Yes. before the mast.
" 'Married ? No, thank Gawd.
"•Could I read and write?' So I wrote down.
'Hain't I a-doing of it?
ii6 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
'"Character from the clergyman of my parish?*
Parish, mind you. Mine's the sea, so I writes down,
'Reverend Davy Jones don't give no discharges.
" 'Care and management of 'orses?' Well, I said,
I'd 'ove some overboard acrost the Western.
"Makes me strip bare, buiT 'n buttocks.
"And take them oaths. Oaths from me! I axed
'im if I looked like a traitor, or a Dago."
"A Dago, like me?" i
Red gave me his grubby sti'-ky hand in sudden
sympathy, bidding me cheer up. " 'Cause even a
Dago ain't so bad as niggars."
I mopped my eyes with a handkerchief and begged
him not to comfort me too much lest I shed un-
manly tears. "Tell me," I went on, "about the
man you kicked."
"Ruptured, I 'ope. You see I went into the C. P.
R. office and ast for a job, and 'e said no English
need apply. I'd best go, says 'e, to the Society for
the Relief of Destitute Englishmen. So I ast 'im wot
'e was and 'e says, 'Canadian, get-to-'ell-out-of-'ere.'
Then I 'ummed Gawd Save the Queen at 'im for
maybe fifteen minutes to lure 'im out from behind
that 'ere bulkhead.
"The girl with the parcels was buying a ticket
THE SWING OP r VF^NTS i , 7
iT^u'T" '''" '''°"'" °'' "^ ^'^ "--« and
god.fil,edteeth. Sort of, v.. „,.„,,,,,, he twelve
o clock tram leaves at noon to-n,orrow. and the fare
dont h,„clude no Pultaan bunk nor n,eals nor an
extra h engine, and in the event of Indians you
wont be scalped, madame, 'cause you're just too
beautiful.' And she is, too.
,. "^^^"^hile I just sang the national anthem at
>n,, knowing it was bound to work if I kep' on pa-
rent, 'e gettin' as red as a lobster with 'is un'oly
passions, until at last she says, 'Good-by,' an' drops
er parcels Stands like an 'elpless angel, saying
ow silly she is.
"Yuss. There's me at 'er little feet a-pickin' up
the pawcels 'and over 'and, when h'out comes Mr
Clerk from 'is sheltered 'utch to say I'm a thief-
so I lets out a mule kick and 'e performs the high
trajectory-yuss, and busts his bloomin' hypotenuse
nght fair across the seat. And I never said nothin'
to nobody. Nar! Then just as I'm opening the
door for 'er ladyship to pawss out 'e comes along
for another, and gets some more of the same in 'is
bleedm' gizzard. I gives it to 'im abundant, enough
to lawst, but the lidy says, "Ow could yer!' and
wants to offer me money. Says I to meself, 'I 'ear
ii8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
thee speak of a better land,' so not wanting to in-
terfere with them 'ippopotamus police I comes 'ere
"Oh, yuss. She was h'angels h'ever bright and
fair by the nime o' Vi'let Burrows. That's 'er tally.
Tells the clerk she 'ails from 'Elena, Montana."
"Vi'let Burrows, of 'Elena, Montana. 'Ere, what's
But Violet Burrows, of Helena, Montana, was
the lady I had swapped for a sucking pig to the Cook
who traded her for a dog to the sergeant-major
who sold her for a pair of boots to the good In-
spector Sarde. Then I had written advising her
to bring an action against poor Sarde for breach
of promise of marriage. According to Brat's last
letter. Inspector Sarde was at Fort Qu'Appelle
twenty miles north of Troy station, on the Canadian
Pacific And here was Violet Burrows on her way
to Troy. It would never do. She was much too
good for Sarde. She belonged to me.
I rushed at the corporal of the guard, and told
him to parade me to the officer commanding.
"Oh, go and die," said he, still at his cards, "my
But I had him firmly by the ear. "Come quick,"
THE SWING OF EVENTS ? 119
said I, "come on. I've got to.get. transferred— to-
morrow's train-* little widow-a grandmother of
nrine, and bound for Troy. Oh, by^my sainted
aunt's dear speckled socks, come on!"
A mile outside of Winnipeg station, just .at the
end of the sidings, the west-bound train slowed
down, then stopped to admit three passengers who
came in a government sleigh. These boarded the
train and marched through the cars in procession:
an important dog snuffling at the passengers on an
official tour of inspection, a red-haired sailor tramp,
so badly wanted by the local police that he had to
be shipped outside their jurisdiction, and a black-
avised soldier who, to judge by contemporary por-
traits, looked rather like the devil.
As we three entered the day-car the tramp
shouted, "There she isl"
r I told him it was rude to point, bade him stow]
my luggage and sit down, and then approached the
lady, throwing a salute.
"Widow Burrows?" I asked.
"Miss Burrows," was the prim answer.
She was a pretty, tip-tilted blonde, of the best
I20 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
housemaid type, a dead common young animal, yet
quite attractive in a land where women were still
rare. In England I used to sample them by doz-
ens, taking an educational course in any favors that
they had to offer. This one had a pert fur cap, a
coat of the same which fitted crushingly over a most
pretentious bustle. The skirt seemed hung the
wrong way round. From the size, shape and con-
dition of the hands, gloves would have been ad-
visable. She giggled under inspection.
From Sarde's photographs, of course, she knew
the uniform of the mounted police and airily sup-
posed me to be his messenger; so I told her I was
to be escort as far as Troy, then shed my hot furs
and asked if I might sit down.
For a mere messenger she thought that rather fa-
miliar, so I told htr not to bristle because it was
not becoming. "Now, don't drop your parcels, my
dear." I pointed out Red Saunders in tiie comer.
"The kicker you hired yesterday is tamed and
eats out of my hand. But have you engaged assas-
sins for to-day?" I searched under the seats, and
told her that I was timid about being kicked.
"Oh, say!" She was all of a flutter. That spe-
cies usually got excited when they expected kisses.
THE SWING OF EVENTS 121
It was well to keep them expecting, for when they
had nothing to hope for interest was apt to flag.
"Now don't be formal, young woman. A smile,
please. There, how charming the sudden sunshine!
And how is your late husband? The one in Hel—
"How stupid of me. Not introduced, eh? Miss
Burrows, allow me to present Mr. la Mancha who
wrote to you once or twice, you may remember,
"Please do that 'Oh!' again. Lips perfectly en-
chanting, Mrs. Burrows. I could arrange my kisses
in that vase like roses."
Miss Burrows played at indignant heroine mo-
lested by a villain.
"^~^—l'm n-not Mrs. Burrows. I told you be-
"So? You've exorcised the ghost of the late hus-
band? May his divorced spirit fry, for all I care.
Miss Burrows. Or perhaps you're only a widow
at home in Helena."
"Now you go away, Mr. la Mancha, or I'll get
I i i
IM THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Don't call me mister. Call me Blackguard"
"I got no use for you anyways."
"You advertised for me."
"I didn't! I never 1 You advertised!"
"Ah! And you sent me the photograph of an
ugly aunt— a scarecrow— instead of your lovely self.
"Say," she bridled, "if Mr. Sarde sent you to
— waii — ^all I kin say is — "
"Don't you mean wasf"
"I'll tell Mr. Sarde— there!"
"Do you know that his father was hanged when
his mother stole the ducks?"
My arm stole round her waist.
"Oh, we'll be noticed! I'll scream! I swear
"We'll both scream. Then we're sure to be
"You're just too horrid. It's not respectable."
"I hang in thy sunshine all spread out, like a
kipper. Make me what you will." My arm dosed
round her waist, and was hardly long enough.
"Now you want to let me go right now, or — "
"My dear, you've never enjoyed yourself so much
in all your life."
"I shall call for help!"
THE SWING OF EVENTS 123
"Da If I'd only a tuning fork, I'd give you the
note— the high Q."
"When the brakeman comes, or the conductor, I
will, I swear I will I"
"Won't the newsboy do? Don't eat me. try a
I bought one from the newsboy for fifteen cents,
half peeled it and held it to her lips.
"I won't touch it," she said, and bit. "I~"
"Bite, ruby lips, clutch hard, oh, pearls, and give
your tongue a rest, 'cause you can't talk with your
mouth full, greedy. To think that all your ances-
tors lived on nuts 1 Exit banana up center. And
now with its tender inside skin I wipe the powder
gently off thy nose."
"We'll be seen I" she pleaded.
"And envied. Don't I flirt nicely ? Banana skin
should be good to swab off rouge, but I think this
must be a preparation of pig fat and brick dust,
for it won't come off. I use cherry tooth paste, but
then. I'm a brunette. And now, my dear, if you'll
turn your nose half left. I don't mind kissing you."
"I dare you 1"
"This way. Um. If I weren't so painfully shy,
yes, you may tickle me."
124 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Then you should. Now, when you're finished
huflfing like the female puff bird, you'll tickle me. or
I'll dance you the length of the car."
"Will that do?"
"Nicely, thanks. Now left ear."
"There's the brakeman, he'll see us I"
The brakeman passed, followed by the conductor
who examined tickets, but Miss Violet with her
nose in the air and my arm 'around her waist, pre-
tended total strangers.
I began to lose interest. The girl was mine for
the asking. Any man in the force could have won
her easy favors. She only interested me as Sarde's
property. "And so," said I, "you're meeting him
"Mind you own business."
"It is my business. Didn't I tell you to sue
him for breach of promise?"
"There isn't any breach. We're engaged, so
"So you've got to marry him, eh?" and I led
her on to talk about herself, the only topic she
had for conversation.
Miss Burrows, was, I believe, not fortunate in the
selection of her parents, and had been adopted at
the age of fourteen by an uncle, Eliphalet P. Bur-
THE SWING OF EVENTS wj
rows known as Loco, because ' . happened to be
cracked. He was caretaker at a bankrupt mine
near Helena, absorbed in fooi invention which
used up all his wages, and glad to have Miss Violet
because she was cheap. A servant would expect
to be paid.
To those who have eyes, ears and a heart, the
wilderness gives a better education than the schools
but the girl turned her back on that, sprawling in
the parlor with windows draped to shut out all
thmgs beautiful. The place was full of shams and
plush vulgarities, and there she spent her leisure
Now fiction honestly made by craftsmen may be
true to human life, and at it. best a mirror re-
flecting the world. But an average novel depicts
a hero perfectly sweet, canned virtue, guaranteed
bullet proof; and a heroine who is potted chastity
and warranted tender: two figures void of human
character, whose respectable passions are thwart-
ed for about three hundred pages, saleable at one
dollar and thirty-five cents. Then they mar^r, and
bve happily ever after. Truth may be stranger
than that— but I have doubts.
Miss Violet's novels depicted viUians of spotless
blackness, the good flawlessly innocent but painfully
136 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
underfed. Vice lived in guilty splendor, wicked
earls lunched in their coronets, lurid adventuresses
went hurtling to the bad, and nobody had the slight-
est sense of humor. She f*d on offal.
Old Burrows had a stepson, young Joe Chambers,
a cow-hand earning forty dollars a month, a decent
fellow, tongue-tied and a lout, but with the makings
of a first-rate husband. ,He spent his money on
presents, his spare time in devotion, while Miss Vio-
let, who had nobody else to fM with, made love to
him out of books, had him for dummy to keep her-
self in practise, and wrecked his life without the
She waited for the lover of her dreams, the hero
of fiction, and in this condition replied to my mock
advertisement in the Matrimonial Ashbin. Some
shreds or casual patches of modesty impelled her
to send the portrait of a repulsive aunt, and to fit
herself out in bogus widowhood.
Decent women avoid that sort of correspondence,
and our boys of C Troop felt that the girls who made
love by post were fair game for any sort of lark.
For the sheer repulsiveness of the photograph she
sent, this correspondence was a standing joke in
the troop until Inspector Sarde was fool enough to
take her seriously She sent him a photograph of
THE SWING OF EVENTS 137
herself and dropped the pose of widow. I sent her
Had she shown my letter to her lover, Joe would
have ridden across and shot me. Had she shown
«t to Uncle Loco, he would have prated and been
tiresome. Even her conscience told her she had laid
herself open to insult and as a matter of common
sense, had better take no risk of something worse
But her vanity had been wounded and in a silly rage
she must needs get even. She would take my ad-
vice and lead Sarde on into a promise of marriage,
then If he broke his pledge threaten an action at
So came Sarde's photograph in uniform, and with
qu.te regular features and a viking mustache he
seemed her ideal lover, her hero of fiction. He
wrote too as lonely men are apt to do. After all
he held Her Majesty's Commission in a distin-
guished corps, had official rank as a gentleman, was
ex-officio justice of the peace, could give her a
social position, offered marriage, and was now in
earnest. The poor fool thought herself in love.
Sarde was not very clever. An Ontario farm
a mihtary college, and some forlorn outposts on
the frontier had not completed him iif worldly wis-
dom. With a lieutenant's pay, to iharry on the
138 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
strength of a pretty photograph gave him distinction
in a world of fools. By running into debt, he
managed to send an engagement ring, and after-
ward that sealskin cap and coat, cut as the fashion
was, to fit over a bustle. All that I knew, from my
chum Buckie who sent me a letter of gossip from
Fort French. Later, Sarde sent the girl a hundred
dollars, a month's pay, and got himself transferred
to Fort Qu'Appelle within reach of civilization.
For her part Miss Violet developed lumbago in
the left leg, so that Loco had to engage a Chinese
servant. Released from housework, she decided
that her mission in life was to help Loco with his
invention, for which she must prepare by spending
a year at college. Thus Loco was induced to
borrow sixty dollars for her fare down Elast —
"spoiling the Egyptians" she called that, and Joe
raised forty dollars. "All's fair in love," said she.
Heart-broken, she left old Loco to his fate, board-
ing the train at Helena in floods of tears. "I cried
my eyes out." By the time she reached Fargo, she
cheered up. "Can't be helped," said she, and took
the train for Winnipeg. There, feeling much bet-
ter, she bought a ticket for Troy. A stage sleigh
thence would take her to Fort Qu'Appelle, and she
wired Sarde the date of her arrival. By the time I
THE SWING OF EVENTS ,39
met her outside Winnipeg on board the west-bound
tram, she had recovered from her late bereavement,
it sail ma lifetime." said she.
"It's love at long range." said I. "The adoring
swme sends you a first-class ticket for Cupid's ex
press, saying. 'Co.^ie to my arms, regardless of ex-
pense. But. my dear, why Sarde?"
"And why not.'"
"You? You're only an enlisted man. but my
*-ynI IS an officer."
"Comfort me," I squeezed her, "or I'll scream "
My attention wandered to Rich Mixed, to Saun-
ders who grinned and winked, to the few passen-
gers and the passing landscape. But Miss Burrows
to brmg me back to the main thing, herself, produc-
ed a grubby hand while she talked palmistry, bid-
ding me read her fortune.
I told her between yawns that the paws of little
cats are much alike, useful for mousing
"But I'm a lady."
"Ladies and cats are pretty much the same. Both
wash themselves all over every day."
It was not in that sense Miss Burrows had claim-
ed to be a ladv. and with an angry flush she set
to work to put me in my
ISO THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Oh, say," she asked incisively, "ain't English
common soldiers with' red coats called Tommies?"
"Toms," I corrected, "not Tommies. Toms. A
she puss, whottises cheap scent instead of licking
her fur, is apt to get scratched by Toms."
"How dare you say I'm no lady?"
"You're not, my dear. You're nice- and common,
frightfully attractive, pretty enough to turn theohead
of any Tom. Why, pussie, dear, if you lived in
England, any of our chaps would walk out with
you in the park. They'd charge half-a-crown —
but, by jove, I'd do it for a bob."
"Holy snakes! Me to pay you for — wall, I
g^ess that's all you red-coats are fit for anyway.
We thrashed the stuffing out of you !"
"We're better without the stuffing. Oh, much
better. I never pad. Do you?"
"We chased you out of Amurrica."
"We liked it. We like being noticed. What
breaks our hearts is being ignored by a proud
"How about Bunker Hill?"
"Ah, yes. How true. But if he'd been a good
Amurrican you'd call him Bunker G. Hill, or Bun-
ker Zee Hill, eh?"
"It was a battle, and you ran like rabbits."
THE SWING OF EVENTS 131
"Eh? Did we smeU some beer? At the slight-
est wh.ff of beer we outieap the longest rabbit
Makes me thirsty to thiric of. Wish I'd been there
Pussie. where is Bunker V. Hill? There may be
some beer left"
"Boston, of course."
"Boston. We've got a little town named after
It. And Where's Boston?"
"You ain't so ignorant aj that. Wall, I reckon
It s the capital of New England."
"Oh, we've got a place named after New Eng-
land, too. Let's see-oh, yes, isn't it run, like ours
by the Irish?"
"You make me sick."
"How charmingly frank you are."
"And you," she sniveled, "just"_«,f^_"treat-
mg me"-^,y_"as if I wasn't a lady."
"That," said I gravely, "I shall never be."
"So I'm no account," said Miss Burrows with
asperity. "I think you've got just the homeliest
face, and the most or'nary manners I ever seen
You're no gentleman."
"Alas, nol I was found in an ashbin with dead
cats. My manners were a disgrace to my native
slum. My face is my misfortune. Pity me."
"You're a brute I" she sobbed.
132 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Cry, but take care, my dear, not to sniff. There,
you spoil it all by sniffing."
"Beauty ! And so we're Beauty and the Beast. She
At that she cheered up, and scratched.
"The beast," said she, "was a prince in dis-
guise, but you're a — " ,
"No, my dear. He wasn't a mere prince. He
traveled in white goods, a real gent, a swell."
"You're laughing at me."
"All the time," said L
"Because you're angry, my dear, for once in
your life you're behaving simply and naturally —
rirst lesson in being a lady. You'll get on."
"Oh, that's what you think."
"American girls are the cleverest in the world
at the great business."
"Wall now, what's that? I'd love to hear."
"Getting on. The principal word in the great
American language is the verb to get. I get, you
get out, he gets there. We are getting on, you
are getting way up, they are busted. Do you use
"No, of course not."
THE SWING OF EVENTS 133
"Then you may lay your golden head upon my-
hold on. I'll spread my handkerchief-so. Now
cuddle up for a sleep."
She had supper with me at the dining station, and
afterward while I smoked, ate candy until she
could hold no more, and played with Rich Mixed '
until both were tired.
"Sleep is good," I told her, "so two sleeps are
better than one. I told the brakeman to wake us up
at Troy. Sweet dreams."
Sometime in the dead middle of the night, Inspec-
tor Sarde boarded the train at Troy, and came
swaggering through the cars in search of a girl
w,th an aureole of bright hair, a dainty tip-tilted
nose and pouting lips, wearing the furs he had sent
her, awaiting his first kiss, demure, shy, innocent.
He found his promised wife clasped in my arms
her head upon my shoulder and both of us fast
asleep. He never really loved me, anyway.
Being a Canadian he had the national qualities of
strength and self-control, and yet was capable of a
bhnd white fury in which his eyes would blaze
from a livid deathly face. Because he did not lift
his voice or use unnecessary words I found him
quite impressive. On this occasion a stroke from
his whip aroused me so that I started broad awake
134 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
staring up at an officer of the corps. I threw off
the girl, stood to attention with wooden gravity and
As to Miss Burrows, with one blink she sprang
into his arms and said, "Oh, Cyril 1" which made
him rather comic in his high authority. He licked
his dry lips before he could even speak.
"Constable," said he, very cold and rigid, like
some cold monumental lamp-post entwined by a
siren or a mermaid, "what are you doing here?"
"Transferred, sir, Winnipeg to Regina."
"Get off the train," his words were stinging, his
tone had malice. "I'll wire the commissioner that
I detained you on my detachment, and in the morn-
ing you report at my office for duty."
"I understand, sir," for he had me at his mercy.
I saluted and turned to obey.
Then Sarde faced the woman who had betrayed
"Come," he said icily, and turned on his heel.
"Oh, Cyril 1"
"Come," he repeated, over his shoulder, "un-
less you prefer to go on with the train; you can go
to hell for all I care."
"Oh, Cyril, let me explain!"
you commg or
THE SWING OF EVENTS 135
So he left the train, with the woman trailing
after him, makings* scene. I followed.
Far back in the long ago time an Indian woman
lay m her teepee ^ying and wHh her last breath
called her lover's name. And many miles away her
lover heard. He pufled up his dog-train and stood
beside the cariole, and listening to the silence, cried
The French Canadian voyagers would tell that
story of the fodian who heard a spirit voice, and
answering cried, "Qu'Appelle ?" From that cty was
the valley named, and the old Hudson's Bay Fort is
still called Qu'Appelle.
On the hillside overlooking the fort stood our
log shanties of the police detachment, but Inspector
Sarde, the officer commanding, and his new wife had
quarters at the hotel.
I was posted to Sarde's detachment and as all
soldiers know, when an officer commanding is down
upon any trooper he can easily drive the man to
mutiny, desertion or suicide within the first few
weeks. Sarde did his very best to that intent, hazed
me, nagged at me, goaded me, set traps to catch me
136 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
in some lapse of temper, told me off to impossible
duties and used false charges to give me ruthless
punishment. My pay was collected in fines, the
other fellows had their leave stopped on my account
that they might be turned against me, and once I
passed a night in the cells with a hundred degrees
of frost. Of course I deserved all I got, and made
no moan because I had so richly earned Sarde's
hatred. He put me on my mettle, forced me to ex-
cel in every duty, made me the best man in his com-
mand, set me to keep the other chaps in good spirits
and make him a good example in the way of man-
Of course, our men told nothing to civilians about
affairs within our family; but passers-by on the
road who saw me undergoing punishment, began to
spread the scandal until nobody in the place would
speak to Sarde or call upon his wife.
Buckie, the dear chap who first had introduced
me to the outfit, was recently transferred to this di-
vision, and posted to Fort Qu'Appelle. He was my
friend in very bitter need, feeding me coffee when
I was like to freeze on pack drill, rousing the other
fellows until they would perjure themselves to the
eyes in my defense, getting me help with my extra
THE SWING OF EVENTS 137
work, turning the crowd against Sarde. And then
he used to comfort me in private.
One Sunday afternoon Sarde was away to Troy,
and Buckie helped me at the stable where I had to
set the ring for a stove-pipe in the roof of an A tent.
For some time we were busy while we measured
and cut the canvas. Then, sitting on up-ended buck-
ets in the warm dusk, we began the stitching. After
a morning talk with Sarde I felt so ill that I asked
Buckie if the man intended to kill me.
"Sarde," answered Buckie, "says he'll tone you
down or kill you, one or the other. You need it a
whole lot. Why? Because you'd got to think you
were Adam before the creation of Eve. The world
is not inhabited entirely by one Blackguard. Sup-
pose you think about somebody else for a change."
That was straight from the shoulder anyway.
Since first I had seen him a rookie of the rookiest,
he had become tremendously grown-up into the
very stock pattern of buck policeman.
"The C Troop crowd," he went on, "think you're
the sort of bounder who needs to live in lime-light
on salvos of applause."
Buckie's respectable soul was in full revolt at my
enormities. I tried not to flinch.
138 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"I ain't much on soldiering" — ^he was so nice in
the vemacylar I— "but I been taking stock of the men
who count, who do things and get the outfit a good
I thought of Buckie's first advent on the charg-
ing steed, and how I halted his trooper, so that the
cavalier sped at me through the air, gun still in
hand and resolute for dut^.
"The real men," said he, "keep their nwuths tight
except when they've something to say. That gives
'em time to think; you don't get any. They obey
orders, and there's nothing else in life until they've
done their job. So they've no time to show off;
you have. You'd make a showman, or a clown in
a circus, whereas this outfit is something serious."
I reminded Buckie of being really serious once
when Rain stole his clothes and he paraded around
in my painted cow-skin robe tracking a malefactor.
"Now, Sarde," he went on, "was only a corporal
when he took a prisoner out of Big Bear's camp in
face of two thousand guns. He's a man, and he'll
be superintendent before he's through. You'll never
get your stripes. Why, Blackguard, Sarde wouldn't
be a man at all if he allowed you to monkey with
I told Buckie to pet me, or I'd cry. He said he
THE SWING OF EVENTS ,39
couldn't because he was using his foot to hold the
Then, stitching away with sail-needle and palm
thimble, he looked up at me with just the expression
of some prim old maid. "Did you ever hear tell "
he asked, "of old Fort Carlton?"
Rather t Fort Carlton stood on the bank of the
ice-dad North Saskatchewan, a cluster of framed
log houses inside a stockade with bastions on the
two rear comers. How well I rememberc-d the pic-
turel It was a trading post, strong against bows
and arrows, but from the high edge of the plains
even a trade musket had range enough to pick men
off m the square. All that, I had read as a boy in
fine adventure books, longing to ride with the
Fr«,ch half-breeds and the Cree Indians running
buffaloe.' up there on the plains above the fort I
wanted to taste the pemmican made by their squaws
of bison beef and berries, to sail with the gay bri-
gades which carried that food to other Hudson's
Bay posts all down the great Mackenzie. But now
the bison herds were swept away, they and the
hunters and the brave voyagers.
"We're going there," said Buckie.
"What, to Fort Carlton?"
"Yob bet. That's why Sardf prdpred » stove-
I40 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
pipe hole for this tent It's to cover a sleigh for
his wife. The sleigh will be rigged as a shack with
a stove, kitchen, bed, everything."
Now I began to understand why men were being
drafted in to Fort Qu'Appelle, the tons of harness
and gear we had been overhauling, Sarde's visit to
Troy and lots of other happenings.
Buckie began to gossip, i
"Down at the Hudson's Bay store yesterday a
Scotch half-breed from the North was talking of
Louis Riel, the man, you know, who got up the Red
River Rebellion way back in '71. He is up there
now, among the old buffalo runners and voyagers,
who used to hunt and man the brigades for the
Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Carlton. He is
spreading treason among the breeds and the Crees.
God has sent him, he says, to raise war against the
police, the white men and the pope, to found a re-
public of hunters and voyagers, to be the father of
all the prairie men. They are to bum Fort Carlton,
to kill all the mounted police, to drive the whites
from the plains — for then the buffaloes will come
back, and their lodges will be red with meat as in
the good old times."
"So there'll be war?" I asked and my heart was
jumping with excitement.
THE SWING OF EVENTS 141
"When the grass comes." Buckie threaded his
needle neatly as a housewife. "War," said he.
"That's why we're going to Carlton, and Sarde
won't have much time to spare for hazing you, eh,
Buckie proved right in all that he had told me.
Within the week we marched, some sixteen men,
mostly green recruits, each driving a one-horse sled
known as a jumper, laden with forage, bedding, kit,
camp gear, grub and even fire-wood. As on a sea
voyage, there was nothing to be had by the wayside,
so our jumpers were laden like so many little ships,'
as our flotilla drove on the great snows. The mer-
cury was frozen, and at the Salt Plains, it was sixty
degrees below zero, rough travel for Mrs. Sarde in
her sleigh-tent, not comfortable for us. One of
our fellows. Crook, had his brain chilled, and in
high delirium drove off to chase a star until a iiule
chap called Sheppey rounded him up and herded
him to camp. We had to leave Crook at the Salt
Plain station, and Doc, with his face frozen off.
stayed with him by way of nurse.
Sarde was quite friendly to me on that trail, and
for once I liked him because he played the man,
taking his share with us, not with his wife. And
I was happy trotting beside my jumper, pulling my
143 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
hone out of snowdrift:, busiest man in the crowd
when we set up the tents and cooked, rolled down
our beds and slept, broke up our camp and marched.
I even made Buckie own up I was not a bounder.
Indeed, that five days' journey had been quite
perfect if only one might have left the baggage be-
hind, and gone without a cold tmcomfortable body,
a sled and a weary horse. ,The spirit needs no bag-
gage to enter that great White Silence of the snow-
field or to visit the night splendors of the star drift.
On our last march of sixty miles we drove
through the log village of Batoche where Louis Riel
was hatching his new rebellion, and some of his
hunters lounged sullen in their doorways. There
we crossed the South Saskatchewan and all day
long were driving through the land between the two
branches of that river, so very soon to become the
seat of war. It was dusk when we came to the edge
of the plains, looking down on the valley of the
North Saskatchewan. It was starlight when we
reached the foot of the hill, and swung round the
stockade to enter the river gate of old Fort Carlton.
TBE PASSIONS OF WAR
'pWO human lives flow sparkling down child-
± hood's merry rapids, and more sedately across
the sadder years, to draw together, then to run
apart, until at last they meet midway upon their
journey, and as one life go married toward their
Two rivers tumbling down the Rocky Mountains,
sparkling through the foot-hiUs, racing across the
plains, draw near together, then flow apart a while
before they meet, and marry to form the great Sas-
katchewan rolling toward the sea.
There is my map, but I was always bad in my
geography, and as to history— well, what can you
expect of a blackguard ?
Just where the two Saskatchewans first draw near,
and are but fifty miles or so apart, our base, Fort
Carlton, stood on the northern branch, and Batoche,
the rebel camp, was on the southern river. Below
144 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
these, in the land between the rivers, lay the Prince
Albert settlement, and its trading village stood on
the northern branch fifty-five miles down-stream
from Fort Carlton. So you see, the rebels com-
manded the main approach both to the fort and the
settlement. They were strong enough to threaten
one while they attacked the other. But neither fort
nor settlement had strength sufficient to attack the
rebels. So much for strategy.
Louis Riel commanded at Batoche four hundred
buffalo runners, dead shots at full gallop, and per-
haps the finest marksmen in the world. He had
two hundred Assiniboin warriors, and twenty-two
hundred Crees — in all three thousand men. His
envoys were at large among the Black feet, and if
they rose — good night! Still worse, the Irish Fe-
nians in the United States seemed able to control
the government, for they were openly preparing, in
Riel's interest, their third armed raid upon Canada.
Worst of all, we could not arrest the rebel because
he happened to be French Canadian, and had the
active sympathy of fifteen hundred thousand brave
compatriots. Our first motion might give the whole
Dominion to the flames of civil war.
I don't know whether that paragraph is politics
or tactics, but the position was very awkward.
THE PASSIONS OF WAR ,45
For eleven years now, with only from three to
five hundred riders, the mounted police had held
that big wild empire of the plains, so that civilians
went entirely unarmed because we kept the peace
Now the settlers were threatened with every horror
of red Indian warfare, and they had no guns
And we were isolated. No help could reach the
plains. There was not then, and is not now. any
tra.I connecting the plains wi^h Eastern Canada, or
with the Pacific coast. On either side of us rolled
Ae terrific and unbroken forest, and the Canadian
Paafic Railway was still a string of gaps. When
Canada raised a field force for our rescue the United
States refused a passage for her troops. Neither
could England help us, for the Russians were march-
ing on India, and war might be declared at any
So everything depended on little scattered clus-
ters of the police and on our big chief. Sorrel Top
commissioner of the outfit, gentle, brave, strong'
wise and greatly loved. All through the winter he
had been throwing small detachments into Carlton
unfl on the first of March, in '85, we numbered a
hundred men. Fifty civilians joined us as volun-
teers, and all the loyal Scotch half-breeds came to
us for refuge. The rest of the Prince Albert set-
146 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
tiers held their village, some of them armed with
On the twenty-sixth of March, at 2 a. m., a des-
patch came in from Sorrel Top to Paddy, our com-
mandant at Carlton. At three o'clock the rider was
released to catch some supper, and from the mess-
room his news went through the fort. Rich Mixed
and I were over at stables,, for Anti, my poor horse,
had all his pasterns badly stocked from too much
work patrolling. So he had some sugar, and we
were getting on quite nicely with the treatment when
somebody came over from the mess-room.
"That you, Buckie?"
"Remnants of," he growled.
I told him I was on picket again at four. Life
was too good just then to waste on sleep.
"It's war," said Buckie.
War at last I He sat on the bail between two
stalls, drooping with weariness, while the lantern
light cast shadows on his face, dead white with
"Turn in," said I, "or you'll be crocked by morn-
ing." He told me he was on flying sentry until four,
then gave me news.
By stripping his far-flung outposts, our big chief,
Sorrel Top, had scratched up another hundred men
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 147
and was marching from Fort Qu'Appene. Two
men were badly frozen, sixty-five were snow-blind,
the horses had played out, and some civilian team-
sters lagging behind were captured. Then a rebel
ambush had been discovered just four miles ahead,
so Sorrel Top, with a sixty-mile march, had swung
into Prince Albert. There he was resting twenty-
four hours to organize the settlers for defense. He
would arrive this day, the twenty-sixth, take over our
command, and with the combined force crush the re-
bellion before it got too strong. But we were not
to move until he came. That is a wise delay which
makes the road safe.
"Who do you think," asked Buckie, "rode in with
I supposed he would be some poor B Trooo co-
"His name," said Buckie impressively "is Toe
But that was the name of Mrs. Sarde's old lover
the Montana cowboy. Had he joined the force?
"Asked for you. Blackguard."
"Go, fetch him."
By the time I had saddled Anti and bridled him
—he was Anti-everything, especiaUy the bit— Btickic
came back with Chambers. He was a suH.icious,
jealous, dear-eyed sort of beaK without «ny Muidl
148 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
talk. He sized me up, judging my points as though
he were asked to buy me, but not one word would
he say until Buckie cleared. Then he spoke slowly,
tersely, and with weight in all he said, most clean
of heart, direct and sterling man.
Miss Burrows, he told me, had wrote from Troy
in the British possessions, to Loco, her fool uncle.
Claimed that she'd met in the cars going west a man
which belonged to the police, name of La Mancha.
Was that my name?
I owned up.
Name sounded Dago, but I seemed to be white.
Had treated her white, anyways. He thanked me,
and I bowed.
At Troy this lady got off the cars to nuqry an
officer, name of S'irde. Was he any good?
She was Sarde's wife, she wrote, and heaps mis-
I could have opened Mr. Chambers' eyes. His
lady had a smile for one man, "Oh, thank you,
how nice I" for another, dropped her gloves for a
third — she was great at dropping parcels — made eyes
at all the rest. She had three- fourths of our gar
rison in'^ state of day-dreams and fond hopes for
more, the kind of flirt who ogles niggers so that
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 149
they go crazy and have to be burned. I could not
teU Chambers all I thought of his lady, who wrote
that her heart was broke.
Nothing had this real man to say about his own
engagement to the woman, of the ranch he had
stocked with cattle under her brand, registered in
her name, not his own "with the stock association
up to Helena." He told me nothing then of the
•dobe cabin, the fixings, the pi-anner, all for her, of
the months' wages he had given that she might get
eddicated down in civilization, or of the callous
way she had betrayed him.
Only he stiffened, and his voice came near to
breaking as he told me of suspicions. This guy
she'd married up with must be some swine, and
needed shooting a whole lot for making her un-
happy. So he'd rode to Troy and found her gone.
That meant, I suppose, that he had sacrificed his liv-
ing, to ride a thousand miles for a woman who had
not even troubled to send a post-card. At Troy he
reckoned to find the preacher who had hitched up
that team. I had tried also, but only discovered
that Miss Burrows went with Mr. Sarde from Fort
Qu'Appelle for a sleigh-ride, and came back married.
Chambers had tracked the pair to Troy, where he
found that the ceremony had been performed by
ISO THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Happy Bill, a converted railroad fireman, not in
holy orders; not licensed to marry people. He had
broken the law to perform a sacrilege.
"He ain't no branded preacher," so Chambers
put it, "but a maverick which ain't allowed in the
herd, and railroad men is worse than sheep herders,
Sarde had found the woman in my arms, and as
she played crooked with Jiim, so he had done with
her. There had been no marriage. She was not
"And now," said Chambers, "I done joined the
police, to follow this here Sarde. Your general
give me a despatch to ride, and I shorely burned
this trail to get here quick." He pulled the service-
revolver from its holster.
"I hain't stuck on this hyre soldier gun," he said,
"but I had to hang up my Colt at the Troy hotel —
so this will have to do. Where's Sarde?"
"I'd like to see Sarde kiUed," said I, "but I'd
hate to see you hanged."
"Search me," said I, "he's not my property."
"Find him," said I, and swinging to the saddle,
THE PASSIONS OF WAR
At 4 A. M. I relieved the chap on picket just at
the brow of the plains where the road curves over
southward, toward Batoche. The orders he re-
peated showed quite clearly that Paddy expected the
rebels to rush the fort at dawn.
Orion was setting already, and the stillness be-
came more terrible every moment, the live menadng
silence. Before I had even time for an alarm shot
the rebel scouts might rush me. for if they meant
to attack the fort at dawn it was high time they
put me out of aption. Stars rose upon my left, they
set upon my right, then the earth's edge darkened
black against the east, and it looked as if some
«ngel with a brush made a faint wash of stars to
paint the sky.
Up the hill behind me cmie thud of hoofs, and
swish of skidding runners, clank of harness, voices.
"Gid-upyoul Haw.MoUie!" I sensed a mounted
man leading a string of sleighs up the long hill from
the fort, but never saw them until they topped the
brow curving past me lUmy-gray like ghosts. They
were bound, they told me. to get the traders' stores
from Duck Lake Post before the rebels came.
I heard reveilM sound, its notes faint silver. tin-
152 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
gling the Ane air. The eastward sky was lemon
flecked with rose, the snow-field was changing from
indigo to lilac, then the red sun shone level through
poplar groves, and made their frosted branches
cornelian in mist of fire. The sky was cobalt next,
and shadows like blue pools filled all the hollows,
while the poplar groves were changing to tremulous
white diamond. It was time for breakfast, but my
relief was late. Then I was drowsy pacing old Anti
on a measured beat to keep us both awake. Half
sleeping I heard at distant intervals the bugles call-
ing "Dress," "Stables," "Grub pUe."
The string of teams came rattling homeward now,
at a sharp trot, taking the hills on a lope, the team-
sters shouting chaff one to another, the men in the
sleigh beds with their carbines ready, peering back.
The sleighs came past me empty, and somebody
shouted, "Rebels! Run, Blackguard I Rebels com-
"Send my relief," I yelled as they went swinging
down the curve, the first patrol of the regiment
which ever showed its tail t an enemy.
For a long time I scanned the rolling plain ahead
with all its frozen pools and clumps of aspen. There
was no sign of rebels. Then from the fort I heard
the bugle crying a new call : "Boot and saddle!"
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 153
Not knowing what that was, I rode to the look-
out, from whence I could see the square aswarm
with men, all falling in like atoms of some crystal
until a general parade stood rigid on command. It
was but a mile. I could see Paddy making a speech,
and heard the thin thread of sound, lost in a riot of
cheering. Then there were short sharp barks of
command whUe the advance guard formed fours,
the little brass seven-pounder swung her little tail,
dismounted men piled into all the sleighs sent out
again to load at Duck Lake Post, and the rear-
guard covered all— out through the water-gate,
round the stockade, across the trampled meadow
and up the timbered hillside. Two scouts came
ramping past me and plowed on into the blinding
glare. Next Paddy, attended by his bugler, rode
up to the hill crest, and I begged him to let me
"Fall in," said he, "rear-guard." So I spurred
through the drifts to get there lest he should change
The column was in half sections, the last consist-
ing of Buckie who fancied himself with the stiff
cavalry seat, and the Montana cow-hand who rode
easy. I dropped in behind them and called Joe
Chambers back. Had he seen Sarde, I asked.
154 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
He had not
Sarde was jtut ahead, riding abreaat of the cd-
unrn in full view, but Chamber* did not know hit
enemy by sight, and Buckie had not told.
"You see that officer?" I asked.
"Your partner," said the cowboy, "says that's In-
"Yes, Bunty Brown," said I.
"Your partner called him Jocko," said the cow-
boy. "So that's Sarde 1" He whipped out his gun
and spurred forward.
"Old Bunt was a jockey," I explained, "before
he went to the bad and joined the police."
Chambers fell back beside me and sheathed his
"Seen Mrs. Sarde?" I asked, to change the sub-
"Sent her a note," said Chambers; "she sent a
He would not tell me what was in that letter.
Ten miles we rode through park-land with its
little tarns for ducks, its aspen groves and drifted
glades where soft snow lay neck-deep beside our
trail. Then, as we passed through a narrow belt of
bush, word came from man to man, that the scouts
were racing in. Beyond the timber our £oluina
IHE PASSIONS OP WAR ,55
formed front on the left, extending out at right «i-
glei from the road for nearly a hundred yards. The
big sleighs plunged through drifu like boats in a
storm at sea, forming a rough and broken line of
nunpart. Then we dismounted into snow breast-
deep, and sent back all the horses into the bush for
shelter with one man to each bunch of four, while
the rest of us took cover in dusters behind the
sleighs, and our officers tramped out a pathway
close behind us.
The open land ahead was only about a hundred
yards across encircled by clumps of bush. On our
far right, across the road, a lane deep^rifted, went
off to a litUe shack on rising ground. That farm
had a field enclosed with a snake fence which filled
the angle between lane and road.
Out there along the road beside the fence was
Paddy, with our interpreter. Joe McKay, a half-
breed, a chap we liked. He was interpreting to the
skipper while an Indian, wrapped in a dingy white
blanket, stood making a long oration. This was the
Cree chief, Beardy, who owned the farm op our
right He seemed to be talking forever and ever,
I felt it was aU some endless, rambling dream,
irom which I should wake for breakfast. Beside
IS6 THE CHEERFXJL BLACKGUARD
me on my right was Chambers, and half my mind
was listening while he talked. He told me of the
ranch he had made for Miss Burrows, the shack he
had built for her, the fixings, the omymints. Those
made me chuckle, while the other half of my mind
wondered resentfully what the joke was about It
seemed profane to laugh while in my dream I knew
I was badly frightened.
Out on the road the Indian suddenly snatched at
the interpreter's carbine, but McKay was on the
alert, and emptied his revolver into Beardy, who
crumpled up, staggered against the fence and lay
there twitching. Our leader swung rotmd in the
saddle, and "Fire, boys I" he shouted.
"Please, sir, you're right in the wayl" cried the
"Oh, never mind me I" laughed Paddy. Beardy
had held him in talk while the rebels, four times
our strength, traveling light on snow-shoes, hidden
within the bush, closed in a horseshoe formation
with our line between its prongs, almost surrounded
at point-blank range for the coming massacre. We
faced a blinding snow-glare toward the sun, where
trees of branched sprayed diamond sparkled along
their roots with jets of ^.ame, and gusts of smoke
like pearls rolled in serene air. We fired out a blue
THE PASSIONS OF WAR ,57
•moke film, our bullet, whipping the crert. of now-
drift into spray, «,d du«t of diamond feU from
the fairy woods.
So rifles blared and wnoked. so bullets whined at.d
wng, but still the dre«n sense told me it was u. ^
mere twittering as of summer birds amid the r i,.>
silence of the plains which fiUed the vault of luaw •
sun-high with peace. Then my mind dear. ;, 'or a
gust of lead was smashing the sleigh-box above nj
shattermg and splintering planks into long sliver/
I knew that our force was helplessly bogged down
ambushed and being destroyed. After one shot the
seven-pounder jammed. Nine gallant civilian vol-
unteers were killed attempting to charge the shack
upon our right. The enemy at both ends enfiladed
our broken line.
Then in the bush I saw a man leap, falling
Buckie let out a little yelp of bliss, but this was my
meat and I claimed it. "And what's the next ar-
tide ?" said I. At my side I heard something grunt
"Pig!" said I. but Chambers rolled over against me
So Budtie and I let our carbines cool off. while we
watched Chambers to see what was wrong with him.
The red flush faded under the tan. the strong fea-
tures became thin, pinched, frozen. His buffalo
coat spread broad upon the snow, the sunlight blazed
iS8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
on scarlet serge and glittering buttons, but his face
was in gray shadow.
"Wake up, old man," said I, stripping his serge
apart to give him air. "Where is it, Joe ?"
His fingers plucked at my sleeves. He whispered
but I could not catch the words. Then the day-
white face relaxed, a blue shadow like rising water
flooded over it. The lips parted. I took a le*ter out
of the dead man's pocket.
A bullet whipped fur from my sleeve, one crashed
against my carbine so that it stung my fingers, and
half a dozen shattered through the sleigh as I turned
back to the fighting. Those shadowy figures n:?v-
ing through the bush toward our rear must be
Just thai Doctor Miller came mooching along be-
hind me, and half a dozen men were begging him
to take cover, while in a gentle drawling voice he
told us not to fuss.
"Fine scrapping, boys, make the most of the en-
tertainment. Just been shot in the pocketbook my-
self. Bullet hit a pack o' debts but nary one receipt
So, this man's promoted, eh?" He knelt down be-
side Joe's body. "Beyond my jurisdiction, Black-
guard, eh ("'
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 159
He gave me the dead man's belt of ammunition,
dusted the snow from his knees as he stood up, and
went lounging back down the line, giving a new
heart, a finer courage to every man he passed.
Red Saunders had found his place too warm a
comer, so he climbed over Buckie and lay down
on the dead man's outspread overcoat, his legs across
my own. He said he always 'ated getting wet.
"Happy ?" I asked him, for I liked the sailor hobo
in those days.
"'Ungry. Gimme blood I Did ye see Sarde ? 'E's
the only h'orficer lying dahn. Got Gilchrist's car-
bine. I kicked 'im-by h'accident, cruel 'ard. too.
'Ad to appollergise."
"Aim lower," said I, "point-blank. And lie low;
your blazing red hair draws fire."
My next shot got my man, at least I think so, al-
though Buckie claimed him.
"If I'm knocked." said Red, "I 'ereby wills and
bequeaths to you. Blackguard, h'all my just debts.
Share up them cartridges and don't be a 'og."
To cheer up my Brat in hospital at Fort French I
had sent him by the last mail out a nice dirge set to
our old Spanish tune of Alcala. So I began to sing
that while I loaded, pumped and fired :
i6o THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Cany Brat reverently, gently, slow.
Pace by the trunnions with patient tread
Over the drifts of the rolling snow
With arms reversed, for the dead."
"Cheerful, eh?" was Red's pungent comment
"Little we thought of him while we shared
All that was worst in the long campaign.
Little he guessed that we really cared:
But drums roll now, for the slain.
"Spreading the flag o'er his last long sleep.
Leading the charger he may not ride ;
Though for the living the ways are steep
The road for the dead rolls wide.
"Bravely he suffer'd, and manly fought.
Great with Death's majesty, rides he there.
Royal the honors he dearly bought,
"The peace which we may not share."
"Oh, shut it," Red wailed.
I fired once more at a pearl of smoke under the
diamond trees, while I heard the death-scream of
a horse at the rear, the shouting of orders and then
the bugle crying, "Cease firing! Retire!"
The rebels were charging. The horses led up to
our line were bucking, fighting, breaking loose, fall-
ing as the teamsters backed them to the sleighs.
THE PASSIONS OF WAR i6i
Anti went down dead as I mounted. I saw a team-
ster crumple up, the chap whose load of .coal I had
burned to make him speak, Chatter McNabb!
Then I went mad with hatred of the rebels, I was
mad with everything, with everybody, jostling Chat-
ter's horses into place, snatching the traces up and
hooking on. swearing at Red's bungling attempts to
help me. I shouted at Chatter to keep his hair on
for I wouldn't let him be scalped.
I dragged him, all white with snow out of the
drifts, hoisted him to the sleigh, and tumbled him
into the sleigh-bed all of a heap. There was Sarde
in the sleigh-bed teUing me to make haste, for he
had business with the officer commanding, needed
swift transport. I hated him for the trick he had
played on a woman, I hated him for Joe Chambers'
death, I hated him too much to look at him. or
speak, but jumped to the driver's seat, and stand-
ing on it to get a better purchase, lashed the team
to a gallop hoisting them over the drifts in flying
snow surf and a hail of lead.
And then I heard a yell from the rear, shouts that
a wounded man was being left behind. I must go
back. But Sarde heard nothing of that, and cared
for nothing except his errand to the commanding
i62 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Drive on I" he shouted at me as I swung the
team. "Drive on I I order you to drive on !"
I swung the sleigh sharp to spill him, drove back
to where some fellows were lifting the wounded
man, then, standing on the seat I threatened Sarde
with my whip.
"Get out, you cur!" I screamed at him. "You're
a coward! A coward! Hear, you chaps! I charge
this man with cowardice in the field! Get out of
my sleigh or I'll flog you !"
The wounded man was lifted on board, the rest
of the chaps piled in to ease him through the jolt-
ing, and once more I swung my team round to a
gallop joining the retreat through clouds of flying
snow. A sharp jolt brought us up to the firm
ground of the road, and I swerved right, tailing in
with the outfit at a swinging trot.
We had left twelve men dead in the field, we had
eight wounded in the sleighs— one of them dying.
We knew that we were thrashed, had let red war
loose on all the settlements.
The last dropping shots astern gave way to si-
lence, the glare was no 'onger blinding in our eyes,
our confused rush found itself and was a disciplined
column in retreat. In the presence of wounded and
THE PASSIONS OF WAR ,63
dying men a hushed quiet fell upon us like that of
the Holy Eucharist. I drove on, praying.
Then I remembered Sarde with a sudden bitter-
ness^ and called back laughirg, "Say, boys, where's
aarde, the coward ?"
^ "In your sleigh. Constable," he answered quietly,
is there a non-commissioned officer with us' You
Sergeant Boyle, put that man under arrest."
"Conshider yerself," said Boyle in his delicious
brogue, touching my shoulder.
"And when we reach the fort," my enemy con-
tmued, "you'll put that man in the guard-room "
But Boyle was nettled, for that, at such a time
was an act of spite. "Constable la Mancha," he
shouted, so that all might hear, "for charging an
officer wit- cowardice in the field, ye'U be conshider-
m yershelf under close arrest, d'ye hear me?"
"You witness," said I, "to my charge of coward-
"Silence, prisoner I"
I handed my reins to Red Saunders as off man.
Well, Sergeant," Sarde became affable, "might
have been worse weather, eh ?"
The sergeant turned his back on an officer under
charge of cowardice, and a trooper at the tail end
i64 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
of the sleigh asked hi* ntigbbor, "When will Sarde
be court-martialed?" From that moment the out-
fit treated Sarde as a leper.
Meanwhile I sulked, humped on the driving seat,
though the blue sky and the inir snow-fields catkd
on my soul to rest, to be at peace, and shamed by
distracted spirit with their quiet. There was silence
in that heaven for the space of half an hour, teach-
ing me not to care, never to hate. I think I went
off to sleep.
As we came to the rim of the plains looking down
on Fort Carlton, we saw dusters of men in the
square waiting for news of victory; and over to the
right on the Prince Albert trail old Sorrel Top's re-
lief force — come too late — was swinging down the
curves of the long hill.
"jo Dear — I can't bare it any longer i ain't got
nothing to love it's up to you take me away or i'U
kill myself. The first nite Mister Sardes on duty
meat me outside the stockade i'U bring a bundle just
round the comer on the left as you go out so they
wont see us from the bastion Come at nine.
"Your broken hearted
THE PASSIONS OF WAR ,65
There is the letter which Joe Chambers was try-
ing to give me when he died. It made me sorry for
Sarde, ashamed that I'd lost my temper and brought
a false charge against him. He had been anything
but coward on that winter march from Qu'Appelle,
had treated me half decently ever since, and cer-
tainly played the man at Duck Uke fight. Of
course, an officer should be a gentleman, has a job
m which any one else is a misfit, but that was
Sarde's misfortune, and not his fault. A pig is a
pig. so one should make the best of him as pork,
and not expect his meat to be caviar.
I was in the cells with plenty of time for sleep
and remorse while all the boys were at work through
the night and the day after Duck Lake fight.
Toward evening Buckie came to see how I was
getting on, and when he found me starving brought
some grub. The provost guard had been withdrawn,
he told me, because the whole garrison served the
relief on patrol, picket and the inner line of de-
fense. The men on fatigue were lugging the stock
out of the Hudson's Bay store into the square. They
swamped the grub with coal-oil, piled the dry goods
and burned them, and had been told to help them-
selves to the jewelry. At .nidnight we should
i66 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
abandon and burn the fort to fall back upon the
Now I must explain that there was only one en-
trance to the fort, the water-gate, a square tunnel
through the log building \<rhich fronted upon the
North Saskatchewan. As vc . 1-ft the fort through
this tunnel, the guard-rcpi .iras on the left The
guard-room stove had an iron pipe which went up
through the ceiling to warm the surgery on the up-
per floor. Next to the surgerv was a ward where
lay the two wounded men I had rescued. Sergeant
Gilchrist, shot through the thigh, and Chatter Mc-
Nabb, shot through the lungs. The orderly in
charge of them was Baugh, the chap who got his
face frozen off on our march from Fort Qu'Ap-
pelle. He had come on by the stage sleigh conva-
Buckie had been at work with Sergeant-Major
Dann up in the surgery. They had emptied a cou-
ple of paillasses, stuffed them with clean hay and
placed them in the sleigh set apart for the two'
wounded men. At midnight Buckie was to help the
orderly to get them down to that sleigh. Since the
guard-room stove had gone out, the cells were so
beastly cold that I asked Buckie to bring me down
the stack of old hay he had left on the surgery floor.
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 167
He laughed, telling me to come out on duty and get
warm with work. He left the door wide open, but
I was too sulky even to leave the bed where I lay
trying to shiver myself into a sweat.
Late in the evening some half-breed refugees
were quartered in the guard-room, and made a
hearty fire which warmed me up. I could have slept
but for their clatter of taL., and then they got the
stove red. and the heat was beyond endurance.
Roasted out of my cell I told the half-breeds to
tame their beastly stove or they would fire the fort
and burn the wounded men in hospital. The breeds
were merely insolent, so I took down my side-arms
from a peg, slung on the belt, loaded the gun and
flounced out in a huflf, refusing to stay in jail an-
other minute unless the authorities kept my prison
1 found myself in the covered gateway, and on
my right was the square with a bustle of men load-
ing sleighs. On my left were the gates ajar with
the sentry pacing his beat. Beyond him lay the
river winding through that quiet starlit wilderness
which is the only medicine for perturbed spirits. I
noticed the gear on the wall for fighting fires and
took down the ax which I hefted and threw across
my shoulder. The sentry was only a B Troop man.
i68 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
lo I told him I had been sent out to cut a waggy, to
repair the broken mutt of a whiffleswoggle. Any-
thing is good enough for B Troop.
Outside I swung off to the left, and all I cared for
in the world just then was to be alone with my dog,
and my bitter heart, there in the quiet. But round-
ing the end of the wall I came upon Mrs. Sarde.
Then I remembered her letter, her assignation with
Joe Chambers at that time and that place. Of
.course, she must be attendid to, so I raised my cap.
"Oh!" she said. "How you frightened me 1 And
I've waited hours. Oh, Joe 1"
"Joe couldn't come — sent me."
"Mr. la Mancha!"
"At your service. I suppose you thought I was
your lover's ghost."
"His ghost? Say, what d'you mean? Oh, Mr. la
Mancha, he must have sent a letter, a message,
So she had not been told. It was damned awk-
ward. I set my ax against the palisade. "Joe has
been hurt," I explained as I oent over her, "shot
in the fighting yesterday."
"Dead ?" came her awestruck whisper.
• "Dead. He told me to tell you."
THE PASSIONS OF WAR ,69
"I must go to him," she sobbed
"You needn't worry," I told her. "I got your
letter out of his pocket and destroyed it You're all
She was crying convulsively and there is nothing
that annoys me more.
"Don't cry," said I, "you know you don't really
care, so what's the good of shamming?"
She tried hysterics.
"Drop that," I told her. "What's the good of
play-acting at me? You know you can't fool me
"Oh," she wailed, "how dare you say I don't
care! You've b-broken my h-heart"
She gulped, pulled herself together and looked
"Now look here," I told her, "you stop playing
the fool. You asked this man to run away with
you. If you'd cared for him the least little bit, you
wouldn't have asked a soldier on active service to
get himself court-martialed and shot for deserting
in the face of the enemy."
"Don't lie. Don't play crocodile tears on me.
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I70 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Stop shamming and lying for once in your mean
little life. Joe came to save you from yourself, and
died in the attempt."
That brought her to bay.
"You're cruel. You're unjust You're insulting.
You're a brute !"
"Chuck it," said L "You've got to face the truth
this once because it may save other lives. You told
me you'd always despised him, thought he was
stupid, dull, a fool, played with him, used him, ac-
cepted his presents, borrowed his pay and had him
to flirt with and keep yourself in practise. 'It does
'em good,' you told me. Then you lied to him and
left him. in the lurch. Joe told me," here I had to
improvise, "on the morning of his death, that you
expected him to run away with you, through an
enemy's country, in time of war. He saw through
you at last. He said he'd see you damned first, and
that's the message I bring to you from the dead."
She held her hands to her ears screaming, "Oh.
let me off 1 Let me go!"
"Go," said I, standing aside and pointing toward
the gate, "cut along, young woman, back to your
She crouched down, cowering against the wall.
"I daren't," she whispered, "he'll kill met"
THE PASSIONS OF WAR ,7,
"Serve you jolly well right if he did. There
isn't a man with any manhood in him would stand
you for a day."
And I was sorry for her all the time. To be so
mean a creature must be a wretched fate, endowed
with pleasures but no happiness. Like a constrict-
mg snake she was created to crush the manhood out
of men. to slaver them over, to destroy them, and
hunt for more. To be a snake with a conscience
must be horrible. So while my words were harsh
I spoke only in pity to rescue this poor creature from
"Your eyes." I said, "are a brace of harlots mak-
mg wanton love to every man in sight. Your lips
have no restraint while your tongue flatters and you
make your sacred beauty a thing of hell. You fool
men with sham tears, sham smiles, sham sentiments
sham emotions-playing the game of life with
marked cards, cogged dice-^ shark at getting, only
a miser at giving."
"Oh, I don'tl" She stood up to face me again
"I never! I—" *
"Virtuous woman, eh? Why, Marjr Magdalen
and all her poor little sisters will keep house in
Heaven before you've finished being grilled in hell."
Oh, pity me," she moaned, "have mercy!"
172 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"The pity you gave Joe, who escaped you in
death ? The pity you show poor Sarde who can't es-
cape? I'm fighting Sarde to get him cashiered be-
fore he has me expelled, but yet I'm sorry for him.
At worst, he's a Canadian, one of the finest, man-
liest race on earth. Go, make yourself worthy to
have a husband, and don't stay whining here."
"I daren't. He beats me!"
"And you've richly deserved it, eh ?"
She looked up with a weak, wan little smile. "Oh,
"You won't be flogged unless you earn it, eh?"
"Run away back to your quarters. Grasp life
and its thorns turn soft."
"I daren't. Oh, save me, Jose."
Without a rag of self-respect she flung her arms
round my knees. As to her sobbing, it sounded
"So," I asked her gently, "you don't a bit mind
wrecking another life?"
"I'd do anything if you told me. I'll be good,
"All right," said L "Sarde found you in my
arms, and that's my fault. I'll pay. Come on —
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 173
get up." I lifted her to her feet. "I'll break up this
marriage for you, and when you're free "
"Oh, you're so good 1" She was shamming again
"So noble 1"
"Now, don't trot out your mock heroics. You'rs
not a serial heroine by instalments. Come on. Since
I've got to pay the price I may as well havt the fun."
I kissed her. "There, now you may kiss ;iie. Kiss
hard. It won't last long."
There were dropping shots from snipers m the
hills; the hum of rapid business the fort grew
to a tumult ; the sentries called f r-. ^st to post :
Number one: All's welll
Number two : All's well I
Number three: All's well!
Then from a greater distance :
Number four: All's welll
And, faint as a little echo, far away:
And silence is the rhetoric of lovers. Why should
it matter? What difference could it make? Why
should the innocent passions of good beasts be in-
terdict for men ?
174 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
The women were being loaded into their special
sleighs when Sarde first missed his wife. With
growing anxiety he visited every place where she
could be, asked questions and heard rough laughter
the moment his back was turned. He found that
Mrs. Sarde had crossed toward the gate-house at
nine o'clock, carrying a large bundle. He failed
to notice a bright and growing light which flickered
in the surgery window above the guard-room; but
pressed on through the covered way, and asked im-
patient questions of the sentry who answered him
in gibberish about a waggy, a mutt and a whiffle-
swoggle. Yes, Mrs. Sarde had passed hours ago
with a bundle and a gold-topped um'^rella, turning
off sharply tc the left.
So for the second time poor Sarde found his
pretty mistress in my ^rms. He stood beside us
unnoticed and there was a quivering agony of shame
in his first words, "Oh, don't mind me."
We leaped apart. The woman nipped round the
comer screaming. The po«rerful impulse of a sol-
dier's self-respect compelled me to stand to atten-
tion, forced me to salute that long thin fool, poor
"You?" he said in a husky whisper, "Youl"
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 175
"Give me the 'Sir', cor and you 1"
"Why, dammit, I ne. / didl" The impulse to
obey was almost overwhelming, yet only by press-
ing a quarrel could I .compel him to release the
"Prisoner: right turn— quick march— get to the
guard-room — or — or — "
"Or what?" He had threatened. He had ceased
to be an officer, to claim respect for his rank. He
was only the peasant with the grotesque dull rage
of a mere lout. I laughed. "Or what? Eh, bump-
This was mutiny, and Sarde lifted his whistle to
blow a call for help. I snatched the whistle, blew
the call myself. They seemed to have a bonfire in
the fort, quite a big one, too, and so much clamor
that nobody heard the call. I watched Sarde's slug-
gish northern way of reaching for his revolver, fum-
bling at the holster flap, and lugging out the gun.
The Anglo-Saxon peasantry are so slowl
With one flash I had him covered.
"No, you don't," said I. "Hands up, hands up,
my fool. That's right. Now be good." I pitched
his whistle over the stockade, then wrenched his
gun from the lanyard until the shackle parted. With
both guns I jumped back, bidding him drop his
• II: i
I ■■ !
176 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
hands and stand easy for a nice, cozy little chat.
"There are no witnesses," I had to reassure him, "so
you see we're man to man."
"Until — " Sarde's voice was full of menace, for
that sort of animal is never more than half tamed
at the best.
"Until," said I, "you bring a tharge, and I call
Miss Burrov's for my first witness."
"Then sine, we're man' to man," he shouted —
they always have to shout — "what were you doing
with my wife?"
"Pooh ! She's not your wife."
"Stand back, Sarde. I don't like your perfume.
No, the question, my good man, is whether you
loose this woman — "
"Because — you — "
A little sound caught my ear from round the cor-
ner, and at first I whistled Three Blind Mice lest
Sarde should hear it. But that seemed unfair. For
a moment I had to think, scratching my head with
Sarde's gun. Then I jammed it into my belt, bol-
stered my ov/n revolver and picked up the ax.
"Look here, Sarde," I had to explain, "it's deuced
awkward, but I heard your — ^ahem — ^good lady lis-
tening round the comer. I didn't mean to give you
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 177
away, old chap. Excuse my country manners. You
see she's found out she's not your wife. She'll in-
terfere now; she'll spoil our fight. Suppose we
move, eh? We'll go to the back of the fort. Come
on. you've got to. By your left, quick march— left
—left— left, right, left— and if you hail the bastion,
I'll drop you I Left-left— you need a setting up
drill, Sarde. Left, turn. I know you don't want to
come, so you needn't explain. Left— left— left,
right, left. There. Haiti About turn! Stand at
— ease. Stand easy."
I set the ax down against the curtain wall, think-
ing, I remember, that it must be a deuced big bon-
fire they were having inside the fort. The sniping
was a nuisance here at the back, and one bullet
splashed between us. Poor Sarde was convinced,
I suppose, that a dangerous lunatic had best be hu-
mored. He was getting patient, too. '
"I guess," he remarked quite aflfably, "you mean
to murder me, eh? '
"Certainly not. Don't be silly. Will you release
this woman ? Yes or no ?"
He wanted to argue the point, to keep me in argu-
ment until somebody came to his rescue. He had to
be roused from such dreams pronto.
"All right," said I, "you needn't get excited. You
178 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
see I dislike you, Sarde. I take exception to the
shape of your feet, you mule-foaled outrage on na-
ture's modesty; you bandy-legged, stridulating,
peevish, pop-eyed anachronism; you supercilious,
illegitimate, high-bounding, beef-faced, misdirected,
spatch-cocked swab of erring parents I You don't
seem really to understand me even now. Let me
I whipped one of my mitts gently, swiftly across
his stupid face, and stood back to see how he liked
it. I certainly had done my best for him, and he
was obliged to clench his teeth to steady his rasping
voice, hissing staccato :
"The reckoning is not to-night!"
"Bad form, Sarde. Melodrama. You mean well
but you're rotten in the part. You should say, 'The
r-r-reckoning is to-night I Hal Hal' That's how
the villain talks. If you live, you can blame the
rebels, and say the snipers got me, see? We have
our revolvers, and so — " What more could he
"Constable," he played up another excuse. "I
hold Her Majesty's commission. .You forget your-
"Ah I Let us be calm. Jos6 Maria Sebastian Sant
lago de la Mancha y O'Brien consents to waive the
THE PASSIONS OF WAR ,79
difference of rank." I raise- my hat and bowed.
"Come, Sarde, we knSw that you're a coward and
dueling is forbidden and all that, but never mind.
For once you shall behave exactly like a man. Brace
upl" I struck him hard and harder across the face.
"You— really— must— understand. At fifteen paces
we turn, and as I give the word we fire, and keep
on firing. No? Now don't disappoint me. please,
I beg you. Have you no inside ? Are you an empty
pretense? Nombre de DiosI What have you done
with your manhood?"
"I've told you already that officers can't possibly
"With me. senor? Haven't I explained? The
Marquis de las Alpuxarras consents to waive the
difference of rank, and meet a peasant. You scram-
bled skunk, take your gun I I insist. I command!
Now you're armed, and at the word I shoot I step
back ten paces and at the word three, I fire. One I
Sangre de Crista! The beastly cad fired at "Two,"
and there was I clutching a burning pain in my gun
arm above the elbow.
nVhat the devil do you mean," I asked him, "by
firing before I gave the word, eh? I'll mack your
beastly head 1"
i8o THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
He fired twice more while I rushed him. Then,
with a swinging left-hander, I got the point of his
chin, and he went down.
A gentleman must always think for others before
he thinks for himself, but Sarde being attended to,
I had time to look around.
Sergeant-Ma j or Dann had been first to see that
glare in the surgery window, and Buckie reminded
him of the hay left round the stove-pipe. At the
head of the hospital stairs they found Baugh, the
heroic orderly, fighting the flames with a sack and
getting badly burned. The sergeant-major picked
up Sergeant Gilchrist and ran with him down-stairs.
Chatter McNabb jeered at Buckie's attempt to do as
much for him, and shot as he was through the
lungs, made his own way out of the building. Buckie
found the hospital orderly with his face apparently
burned off, in the act of falling among the flames.
He dragged Baugh down the stairs.
The bugle was crying the terrible monotone of
the "General assembly." But while the work of res-
cue blocked the stairway, the fire leaped from room
to room, and before the brigade could form for or-
ganized work the whole gate-house was in flames.
THE PASSIONS OF WAR ,8i
barring the only exit from the fort. The conflagra-
tion was spreading through old dry wooden build-
ings and the garrison was trapped beyond aU hope
Through cracks in the palisade I could see the
impending death of the whole garrison, but I wfs
crazy with pain and rapidly losing strength, while
every stroke I clove with the ax nr e me scream
with agony. Then in a sudden ragt with Sarde. I
turned round and kicked him.
"Who told you to lie down, you dirty dog? G« •
up I Don't you see the damned fort's on fire? An^I
you. a Canuck with an ax, letting the outfit bum
to death I Get up I"
He scrambled up. dazed, leaning against the wall,
and peered stupidly through a slit while I kicked
him savagely from behind. What was the good of
moccasins? I needed boots I
"Get to it." I howled, "you blithering disgrace,
and I'll forgive you for shooting me. you cad, and
let you off the charge of cowardice. Strike, you
whelp of sin! Strike, and I'll let you stay in the
force, my bleeding hero. Harder! Harder! Sick
'imi Bite 'im! Tear 'im and eat 'imi"
182 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
In Canadian hands the quivering haft and gleam-
ing blade of an ax ring out wild music to its whirl,
its bite, its rending and swirl of splinters.
"Go it, you cripple !" I yelled. Then from within
I heard the quick live clamor of a second ax and
The fire, with gathering strength at frightful
speed, now roared along the buildings round the
square, flames leaping high through crashing roofs
to light the jammed confusion of sleighs and rearing
horses, while the whole mass were driven scorched
against this northern wall. But the call of Sarde's
ax had roused the whole of our ax-men to help,
hewing a gap through the wall; its tall posts reeled
and fell one by one, the breach was widening, at
last there was room, and the sleighs began to file
past me. I had swooned by that time with the loss
of blood, but somebody with a handkerchief and a
gun made a rough tourniquet, which stopped the
spurting blood until Doctor Miller came. They put
me into the last sleigh as it left the abandoned fort.
As we slowed down to climb the Prince Albert
hill, I looked back at that red splendor which had
been Fort Carlton. Across the meadow, on snow
that glowed like blood, some one was running, a
woman who lugged a bundle and brandished an um-
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 183
brdla while her big bustle wagged from side to
side. The sleigh was stopped and Mrs. Sarde
So the long night retreat began, and as we gained
the rim of the plains, wr saw the first vedettes of
the astounded rebels commence their swoop for
plunder on what was left of Carlton. Thus ended
the busiest hour in my life, for trouble rains on
those already wet.
i : ;
At dusk on the eve of Palm Sunday our sleighs
drew into Prince Albert. For three days and three
nights our people had not slept, but there was stiU
no rest because a first-class panic broke out among
the settlers at the fort of refuge. The doctor had
to find some sort of shelter for the wounded men,
and the only place free from slush within the Prince
Albert stockade consisted of a stack of up-edged
planks. He laid us there, and dressed our wounds
while the panic raged all round us with deafening
iQlamor of screaming men, sobbing women, children
in hysterics, a hammering which they mistook for
musketry, and the alarms of the church bell over-
i84 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
My turn came last, for Sarde had given me only
a trifling flesh wound through the upper arm. "Is
it hurting?" asked Doctor Miller.
"That's heahhy granulation," said he. "Does you
good. Serves you right. I'm going to sit with you
and have a pipe, or else I'll be asleep in another
minute. Got a match ?"
His face was long, lean, whimsical, his speech a
gentle drawl aching with himior. All of us loved
him and the memory of that unhappy gentleman
shines down the years just like a ray of light.
"And now, my boy," said he, stufiing his clinical
thermometer under my tongue, "I'm going to feel
your conscience, if you've got one."
He had me gagged with that infernal instrument.
"Inspector Sarde," said he, "rode with me a-ways
on the trail confessing all your sins. You don't
seem to get on with my brother officer to any
great extent. Wall, sonny, you've both got a tem-
perature and you've both got clinical thermometers
in your mouths to allay the heat Nothing like a
thermometer for a hot patient. The day a soldier
marries, seems to me, he hangs up all his weapons,
and swaps a little drill for bloody war. You're
THE PASSIONS OF WAR
in jolly good luck it wasn't you she married. You
ought to be sorry for Mr. Sarde, not hit him be-
cause he's down."
"Quite so. But he keeps his temper and every-
thing else he gets. You give yourself and all you've
got, away. I like a fool, too. But why bring a
false charge of cowardice?"
I took the thermometer out of my mouth to say
I withdrew the charge. He clapped it back again
and told me to shut up.
"Do you think," he asked, "that it's your solemn
duty as a buck policeman to interfere between your
superior officer — and the devil ?"
I shook my head.
"And why wear mocc^si.is when you kick an
officer? Need boots."
My toes were still hurting.
"Mr. Sarde was hurt," said the doctor. "I
should feel hurt if you kicked me. That's only
• natural. I'd shoot you, too, or operate — which is
much the same thing. You see, my dear boy, even
the commissioner might object to having his troop-
ers kicking his officers, and his officers shooting
his troopers when both should be shooting rebels.
i86 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
If he finds out, he'll kick Mr. Sarde out of the force,
and have you shot for mutiny. Serve you both
dam' well right.
"I don't mind that at all, but what if these bally
civilians get to know too much? Scandals in our
outfit— there's the rub. Scandals in our outfit 1
Won't do. The civvies will get too happy. It isn't
good for 'em. They oughth't to be encouraged. Just
look at them, screeching with fright, as if there
were no hereafter. Did you ever see such a howling
disgrace to the whites!"
"Let's see," he whipped the thermometer out of
my mouth, "I guess you've been pinked by a rebel
"Yes, sir. Shot by a rebel."
"And Mr. Sarde is a good officer?"
"Hero of Carlton I"
"And at Duck Lake fight you misunderstood Mr.
Sarde's order to turn back after wounded men, en?"
"So long as you're left alone you don't bring
any charges, and so long as you behave he brings
no charges, eh?"
"Please tell him, sir, that I thinK he's a disgrace
to the force, and I'll get him pitched out if I can.
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 187
But it won't be by any dirty trick or by giving the
"What makes you hate him. lad?"
"Instinct. He's poison."
"Well, sir, compare him with old Sorrel Top, or
Paddy, or the great Sam himself, or dear old
Wormy, or young Perry, or dammit, even Paper
"Canadians aU. Mr. Sarde is Canadian, too."
"The others are gentlemen. A cad with a com-
mission is an outrage. He means well, but he doesn't
set me a good example, sir; he's bad for my morals;
he makes me peevish. What have I done that this
bounder should come to reign over me?"
The dear man held up his thermometer as a
"When the patient," he chuckled, "gets full of re-
partee, poor charity takes wings. I'm off to torture
a wounded volunteer, and after me comes the par-
son. Beware of doctors, Blackguard." He gave
me my pet name !
Next day the wounded were moved to Miss Ba-
ker's house— to be haunted by an angel. I used to
nip out of bed and help her while she threatened
i88 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
to turn me into the horse corral. To that house
came Mrs. Sarde secretly, with a pudding. I like
chocolate shapes. She threatened widowhood and
overdressed the part. She told me in stage whis-
pers how she had crawled and crouched behind
the comer of the stockade at Carlton, with creepy
gestures in the shuddering gloom, to hear me read-
ing the gospel to poor Sarcte. She made me tell her
all I had heard, and more, about Happy Bill, the
converted railroad stoker, how he wasn't exactly
a parson, and his monkey business not precisely
a marriage. Oh, she was great as the outraged
wife, betrayed but calm, trapped in a bogus mar-
riage, but chock-full of respectability, a helpless
prey. Fact is, the woman was having the time of
her life, reeking adventure like a bom adventuress.
She clawed the air, she capsized my pudding, she
spouted melodrama drivel about her marriage lines
and bloody doom. This way lies madness ! Gimme
the dagger I She had a fat part to play in real melo-
drama, pleased all to pieces, having paroxysms of
rage and grief, with one eye cocked at my shav-
ing glass. Then she was washed away iil floods
of tears, while I taught her how to do coyote howls,
until at last she looked up with a grin as if to say,
"How's that, umpire?"
THE PASSIONS OF WAR 189
Only he is fortunate with women of whom they
take no notice. I was not fortunate. They always
noticed me, to my undoing. Of course, they made
me pay, at every gate, their toll of kisses on the
hell road. Here was the puss complete who, when
I called her a shammy little liar, avowed me to
be the only man who really understood. Because
I denied her I was the only man she ever wanted.
She knew that I liked pussies, that no puss could be
too fluffy— and let me see her at her fluffiest. She
wanted to get rid of Sarde that she might marry
me. I told her kittens were all very well to play
with, but not much use to keep, because they always
degenerated into cats. My ears should select my
woman, not my eyes.
Oh, she was very fair, and most alluring, catch-
mg at my senses, tearing at my heart— a foul temp-
tation to my body. And I was twenty-one years
young in those days. I took her by the shoulders
from behind, kissed her upon the neck— a much
less tempting place than the lips I craved for— and
bundled her out of the house to sulk in the horse
corral while I devoured her pudding.
It was after the war was over, some time about
September, that the Sardes were transferred again
to Fort Qu'Appelle. And there the woman went
190 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
stalking for Happy Bill. She thought herself no
end of a scout when she found him. Then she paid
five dollars to be told by a real live lawyer in his
legal jargon that she was not a married lady. Her
next act was to write a declaration of her woes and
"pin it to Sarde's bosom with a dagger" — which
means, I suppose, that she left a letter for him on
the dressing-table before she robbed his cash-box,
and streaked off home to uncle. She used to write
me most inviting letters.
'pHIS job of writing ptazles me. I am like a
X merchant selling a pearl necklace : wiU you have
my string or my pearls? My threadbare story is
that of an obscure man, but illustrates a theme
worthy of your attention. That is why I wumble
To make each chapter a coherent story, I have
copied the great musical composers. They write
a series of "movements," or moods of mental con-
fusion to form a "symphony" or aU-round muddle
So do I. The result should appeal to all men, but
there is so much immoral wisdom in every woman
that I doubt if one of them will read my book.
Now I am coming to a chapter which will not
stand symphonic treatment. It is a sort of footling
mtermezzo, and the best way to handle it is that of
the songs without words. We will have a series of
wumps, or songs without music.
193 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
The Blackguard' f Wump
The Alpuxarras appear to have worried along
without me as their marquis. The angels never
seemed inclined to pay for my board as their mis-
sionary. The devil had not commissioned me as
his real-estate agent, or any other business man en-
gaged me for useful work! The police outfit was
considered a last refuge for the destitute, but even
in that I was not offered so much as a lance-cor-
poral's chevron. Nobody would ever take me seri-
One cf our teamsters who spoke ancient Greek
like a native said I was "the dead spit of Pan";
Buckie, to whom the proprieties, deportment and
the conventions were all one God, averred me to be
sub-human, a faun if only I could learn to behave
half decently. I was anything but a gentleman,
having, I remember, oiled his hair with birdlime
while he slept, so that on waking he could not tear
himself from the pillow. As to the other fellow,
observing that I was lean, swart, weathered and
grotesque, they urged me to pawn my face. Call
even a dog by such a name as Blackguard, and you
might as well hang him.
Even in those days I knew that I did not belong
THE WUMPS ,93
to the civilized world at all, and that only half of
me was serving in the mounted poI e. That was
the half of me which craved for the Burrows
woman, and cut her adrift from Sarde without any
intention of taking her for myself. Indeed, it wu
not that particular minx I cared for, but rather
an impulse to chase anything in skirts. Low caste
women always hunted me because I was the troop
jester, the comedian, quick, vital, joyous, of bril-
liant moods, and blood red-hot with life.
Nobody knew the other half of me-the immortal
part which worshiped the memory of Rain, the
sacred woman of the Blackfeet, with a laiiting
growing spiritual homage ; the spirit in me which for
my mother's honor and Our Lady's glory defende-1
women in the duels with Tail-Feathers and the long
feud with Sarde. God made me a patrician pledged
to chivalric service, wholly estranged from all ma-
terial interest, from the ambitions of civilized men.
I was beginning to weary of the noise in camp
and barracks, yearning even then at times for the
ren:nte hills, the uttermost solitudes. There were
moments on lone patrols when I could sense the
presence of shy immortal creatures, kin of forgotten
gods. I kept silence lest I disturb sweet April water-
ing her buds, or May as she tended her flowers.
194 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
or June, setting immort 1 seeds in holy ground,
while the big wind goc > tumbled their clouds
through the celestial heights to bring fresh rains
for Eden. To me already the days were notes, the
months were chords, the years were phrases of one
brave melody sung by flying earth as she cleft
the deeps of space, a singer in the choir of the
spheres whose adoration fills eternity. I knew that
I was a very little spirit which must be kept in tune,
free from impurities.
The Regimental Wump
Tliat peace which passeth all understanding g^s
up from the pUins forever, filling the wide grass
lands and the skies above. Because it passeth un-
derstanding it escapes the attention of the police re-
tained in its service.
The summer cured our crisp grass into gold un-
der a dome of azure, and across this floor of heaven
groups of profane small creatures rorle in important
errands, bursting with an infinitesimal rage, ex-
ploding when they met with sudden cracklings of
battle, one party following the other to various
ambuscades and places of starvation within the shod-
ows of the northern forest. Like bees and ants they
•eemed to have dim instincts, working upon some
ordered plan of mutual destruction. And I was one
We fought, we bickered through long delays,
and fought again. A little Canadian army came
very late, helped us most gallantly, sowed their dead,
•nd went off home in triumph. We rode, we starv-
ed, we stamped out the last embers of revolt, hang-
ed Riel the dreamer and tidied up the littered set-
tlements. We settled back again to our routine of
active service as officers of the peace. We saw the
Canadian Pacific rails run clear from sea to sea, we
heard the Canadian colonies awaken to find theu;-
selves a nation, we watched history casur.g her long
shadows into the future.
We liders of the plains were as God made us,
and oftentimes even worse. For a regiment is a
thousand times more human than a man in child-
hood and in growth, in overstrain of war, and
maladies of reaction, in pride of strength and lan-
guor of decay. Our regiment was more human
than most, tremendously alive, enraged with the
late rebellion as a breach of our great discipline of
the peace, and frantic at the loss of our leaders,
Sorrel Top and Paddy. We had a fit of nerves,
with serio-comic mutinies, typhoid and an epidemic
196 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
and desertion. Then came Larry, the new commis-
sioner, a mere civilian to reign over us, who ex-
pelled our old hands if tliey dared so much as spit
sidewise. And we were swamped under a heap of
rookies— a sort of dirty animal, void of manners or
The regiment was still painfully young, fighting
the tyrant Larry, who was 'destined to be our best
friend, and even to inherit the dear title of Sorrel
Top. His godless rookies grew into the men who
finally tamed the plains for settlement, the leaders
in the conquest of the North, the officers of superb
Canadian regiments in South Africa, with a deal
more to be proud of than mere millionaires.
The floor of Heaven was of gold in autumn, like
unto fine glass in winter, and paved with starry
flowtrs in spring. Where our horses trampled there
is peace, where we lay down to rest there grows
the golden wheat, and where we sowed our dead a
In the fall of '86 our camp was at the breezy
edge of the plains overlooking the ford of Battle
River. Out on the flat beyond was pestilence-rid-
den Battleford, where D Troop was down with ty
phoid, losing a man a day. Our F Troop detach-
ment had come from Prince Albert to take over the
D Troop patrols. Our men were away close-herd-
ing the beaten sullen tribes of the Cree nation, and
helping the bumed-out settlers. I was in charge
of the two or three men left behind in camp, and we
had orders not to go near stricken Battle ford. We
sat in camp and watched the funerals.
At stmrise and at sunset we rode and led our
horses down to the ford for water and those big
four-footed babies had us bareback, so there was
lots of fun. One morning young Hairy, on leaving
the water, walked under the * srry cable, which scrap-
ed me off his back into a pool of dust. Then he
turned round to grin and while I was reproaching
him with my quirt, there came from across the
river sounds of lamentation. There was Buckie, oh,
yes, Corporal Buckie, if you please, of D Troop, in
his Sunday best, while Rich Mixed, wet from the
river, leaped all over him spoiling his pretty clothes.
With his forage cap poised on three hairs, his glow-
ing scarlet and his gleaming boots, Buckie was be-
ing absolutely ruined while he denounced my dog.
I rode across to the rescue, leading Mrs. Bond,
and Buckie made the passage on her broad buttocks.
Since goodness knows when, I had not seen my
198 THE CHEERFUU BLACKGUARD
chum, so we spent the whole morning together
among the wild flowers up on the hill near camp
between the torrid sun and a jovial wind. And
Buckie brought forth documents — his little official
soul did dearly love a docttment — all lettered, and
scheduled in a rubber ''and. To wit, viz: —
A. Ululations from Brat, at Fort
French. Got-Wet was haunting him, and
my little brother moaned for me to keep him
out of mischief. But I never answered let-
B. Copy. Confidential report, obtained,
it seems, by art magic, from Inspector Sarde
to the commissioner at regimental headquar-
ters. He had the honor to submit that the
Blackguard was an undesirable character,
and needed watching. He had the honor to
be, sir, your obedient servant.
C. Proceedings of Buckie. Took on as
orderly-room clerk to Sam, superintendent
commanding D Division, and the greatest
man on earth. Showed Sam the above men-
tioned confidential report, with further evi-
dences of a private enmity. Sam was furi-
ous, and pitched Buckie out of the office.
D. Copy of letter from Sam requesting
commission to transfer Reg. No. 1107, Const,
la Mancha, J. and Reg. No. 128, Const, la
.Mancha, Pedrc to D Division.
E. Copy of General Order No. 12,578,-
901, transferring Brat and me to Sam's troop
from the 21st instant.
F. Copy of General Orders transferring
Wormy's troop to Battleford, and Sam's
own, D Division, to Fort French !
f ki m
So Brat and Buckie and I were to serve together
under Sam, the greatest of all Canadian soldi<?rs, at
Fort French, the happiest post on the plains, deliver-
ed from Sarde's malice. But when in my impul-
sive Dago way, I tried to kiss Corporal Buckie, he
ran and I gave chase for a full mile. Then he want-
ed to fight I
A few days later we marched from Battleford
upon a glorious ride of seven hundred miles across
the plains, a troop of pink and white invalids, just
barely convalescent, very limp in the saddle, rather
self-conscious in full uniform. We swung in haugh-
ty silence past the F Troop camp where my late
comrades mourned their fate in old brown overalls.
And C Troop came ramping in from their great
200 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
journey, lean, hard, tanned, their eyes aflash, grin-
ning distainfuUy at our troop of patients. They had
scarcely a trace of uniform among them, but rode
in buckskin shirts and cowboy shaps, attended by
their herd of looted ponies.
The meeting of the three troops, in perfect silence,
the dusty, windy, sunny splendor of that frontier
pageant, makes my heart ache as I remember now.
The delight of the eyes and the pride of life are
gone. And where I sowed in the sands I did not
MY Brat had been frozen in the spring of 1884,
losing the toes of the right foot. When I got
back to Fort French in the fall of 1886, his wound
was still open, although he wore boots and walked
without a limp. He was on light duty as orderly-
Even before he joined the outfit, the boy had been
in love with Got-Wet, the ridiculous half-breed flirt
whose father. Bad Mouth, alias Shifty Lane, was
trader at Writing-on-Stone beside Milk River. She
would have none of the boy, yet would not let him
go, and Brat's little heart was true. In a land
where girls are scarce all hearts are faithful. By
secret means of his own. Brat managed to keep
watch on that lone trading post a hundred miles to
the eastward. How he kn' v was none of my busi-
ness, but my brother had been kept informed through
the tedious catalogue of the girl's flirtations. Grain
by grain that fowl had filled her crop, while Brat
202 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
was tortured, haunted by dismal jealousies. JMd
jealousy disclosed far more than her wiles could
Especially Brat was jealous of two cow-hands
who worked on a ranch about fifty miles north of
Milk River, and so, being next-door neighbors to
Got-Wet, had all the chance denied to an invalid
lover a hundred miles awky. Very bad charac-
ters, Brat moaned, were these his rivals, especially
the elder. Low Lived Joe, who was in a smuggling
partnership with old Shifty Lane, and had given the
girl a black silk skirt, said to be of great value. Oh,
a tremendous dog was Low Lived Joe, putting on
awful side, the fop of local society, claiming to be
engaged. Brat wailed at the very thought of that
wealthy rival. As to the other cowboy, he was
worse — ^the blue-eyed, curly-headed Alabama Flid,
a Harvard graduate, no less, from whom the faith-
less Got-Wet had accepted a diamond engagement
ring. When I chaffed him Brat was peevish, when
I advised, he sulked, when I consoled him he kicked
me on the shin with his bad foot.
While I was still new at Fort French, a complaint
came in from one of our ex-policemen, the cock-
eyed Honorable Barrington Beauclerc, rancher for
whom these two cowboys were riding. Cock-eye
wanted our help because the pair of scamps had run
away, making oflf with his imported stud horse.
Lightning, a notorious crock, which he thought could
outrun Phoebus. Our troop detective, McBugjuice,
traced the kidnaped stallion, and fcund him at
Cheyenne, down in the left-hand bottom comer of
Wyoming. Low Lived Joe and Alabama Kid had
sold the horse to a livery man, and vanished.
So Brat was quit of his rivals ? Not a bit I Got-
Wet had disappeared and the boy was frantic. To
comfort him I told him he could kick my shins
with his right foot as often as he pleased. He
would not be comforted.
Now the best way to capture Miss Got-Wet's
two scamp lovers, was to keep a very close watch on
papa, for Mr. Shifty Lane's trading post was gen-
eral headquarters for horse thieves, smugglers,
whisky runners and every sort of thug along the
border. Of course, it would never do to post a con-
stable at Writing-on-Stone, for it is a rule in trap-
ping never to sit on the bait. But only a dozen
miles to the west was our outpost station of Slide-
out, abandoned since the rebellion had drawn our
men in from detachment. So Corporal Buckie, who
knew the district better than his prayer-book, was
posted to Slide-out, and asked to select a brace of
204 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
constables. He selected me because I knew the
country, also a man called Peggies, a genius with
the banjo and a crackerjack at cooking.
As for me, I flatly declined to listen to Buckie's
worries because Black Prince had been grabbed by a
mere officer. Black Prince was quite the most
famous horse who ever served in the outfit. In
those far distant times of 11886 he was a rookie,
claiming — quite untruthfully — to be a four-year-
old, a bouncing infant made of whalebone and rub-
ber, shying at clouds rather than shy at nothing, full
of loving-kindness, light-hearted innocence and baby
fun. Range horses are never black, but his spring
coat was brown, deepening to brown-black, until
in autumn one almost caught a blue glint on his
That such a charger should be wasted on any
mere inspector was an outrage. So Black Prince
and I came to a little private arrangement between
ourselves. Whenever Inspector "Blatherskite" sent
his servant to saddle up, I put a burr under the sad-
dle blanket Ihus, when "Blatherskite" mounted,
there were always volcanic eruptions. The horse
detested the very sight of "Blatherskite," and yet
was always a perfect lamb with me. To own him
I would have volunteered to stew in Suez. The day
he broke "Blatherskite's" off collar-bone I cheek-
ed the sergeant-major, knowing quite well that he
would try to get even with me by some unholy
act of malice. The chap, by the way, is doing well
now as a parson.
Sure enough Sergeant-Major Samlet palmed off
Black Prince on me, and said that if I got killed I
should make a jolly good riddance. At that I look-
ed so glum and near to tears that he felt he had
done me the worst turn possible. Not daring to
sit in the saddle because of the burr underneath
I led Black Prince to the stable. I had got him!
That evening I bought at the Hudson's Bay store
a black silk shirt, and a silk scarf of ruby and orange
very broadly striped. These, with my old shaps
and glittering cartridge belt made the right colors
for my heaven-bom horse as I rode out with Buckie
on the trail ;j Slide-out. Poggles drove the team
with our supplies, and we made the eighty-eight
miles in a couple of easy days.
So we began to keep house in the old 'dobe shacks
at Slide-out, Corporal Buckie to give counsel on all
proprieties, Poggles to make our hearts glad with
the sauce-pan and the banjo, and me in a purring
ao6 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
mood with my tail up— the happiest household that
ever was or could be. Rich Mixed was the officer
In that life of the lone outposts each constable
by turns was cook for the week, and had charge of
the station, leaving the other fellows free for pa-
trols which visited every settler in the district. To
save the people from infection among their live-
stock, to preserve the game for their use, to suc-
cor them in storm, drought or famine, guard them
from thieves, advise them in difficulties, assemble
them to fight range fires and entertain them with-
out charge in camp or quarters, to make aliens into
citizens, to lay the foundations of the state — such
was the work of police out on the frontier.
To this little outpost of Slide-out Buckie had been
attached in his rookie days, when he brought me,
dressed in blushes and a vest, to my enlistment.
From here he had flirted with Got-Wet, and lured
away his rival, my dear Brat, to be another coyote
at Fort French. On the strength of all that Buckie
was most paternal, and a 'dobe shack may house
much dearer memories than any palace.
We had not been so very long at Slide-out when
the massive dectective. Sergeant Ithuriel McBugjuice
came ramping down upon us, reined his portly cart
horse, and in a double basso-profound roar, "How,
Buckie I" he shouted; "How, Don Coyote I Hurroar,
young Poggles, what's there to eat? Great Je-
hoshaphatl I'm absolutely starving. Bai jove, yaasi"
We fed roast antelope to the dying man until we
thought he would burst, with powerful coffee, and
a heap of slapjacks, and finished him off with apple
dumplings. He whispered hoarsely that ]\t felt
much betteh, yaas, able to sit up, bai jove — er and
take a little nourishment. He had news from the
Gieyenne sheriff, a propah sportman, yaas; Low
Lived Joe and Alabama Kid were heading north-
ward indeed — ah.
Now I had seen myself that very day tracks of
two unknown horsemen with a pack pony shod on
the fore heading northward from Shifty Lane's
trading post on the trail to Cock-eye Beauclerc's.
Here then were the wicked cowboys who had stolen
Cock-eye's stallion. Detective Sergeant Ithuriel F.
McBugjuice ordered us all to bed for a rapid sleep,
At midnight Poggles and Rich Mixed, who were
to remain in charge at Slide-out, awakened us for
tea and ah — refreshments. By one o'clock a. m.,
Buckie and T 'lelped hoist the ponderous detective
on to his roomy chargah. On through that starry
aoS THE CHEERFUL BLACK3UARD
night we slung long miles behind us, then shivering
in the dawn chill, let our horses graze until there
was light enough for reading tracks. We seemed to
breathe the pale fine gold of the East like some
divine draught which gives perpetual youth, to
stand upon a floor of living gold as wide as heaven,
to wait for the sun as though God were about to
rise. Then, looking back, ,1 saw the Rocky Moun-
tains, angels of clear flame, kneel on a wall of ten-
derest violet. No poet's dream brings me so near
to Heaven as the plains at daybreak.
We had been waiting on a ripple of the vrairirt
for light enough to read a little winding trail. Be-
fore the sun rose, we saw. Two shod horses, at-
tended by a pack pony shod only on the fore,
traveling swiftly, by night, and blundering through
sage-brush, had passed on the w . to Beauclerc's.
We followed, rolling our tails for Hand Creek
which we made by half past ten. The ranch was
Here the signs read clear. Poor little Cock-
eye Beauderc had been surprised in bed, and tied up
after a sharp tussle. His monocle lay smashed, a
pathetic relic. His basket of good, old family plate
had been emptied, and the young robbers had gone
off south by east at a lope. Afterward the captive
Beauclerc had cut loose from the rope which lashed
him to his bed. had crossed to the sUble, left his
lantern burning, and Uken his buckboard with a
lame old mare, heading for Medicine Hat. He
would get help from our detachment there. We
cooked a meal, fed our horses, left a note for Cock-
eye, and hit the trail again directed for home. So
long as our hairies thought they were going home
they would give us of their best. So long as we did
not alarm our little jail-birds they would head for
Une's. Birds of that feather flocked to Une by in-
stinct. Our job was to get there first.
All day we rode on the floor of an mvisible ocean,
looking up at the keels of the cloud-fleet on its sur-
face, in belts of sudden light and racing shadow.
Then as the sun shone level, we tut the trail from
Slide-out to Writing-on-Stone, having covered in all
some ninety miles with only six to go.
"By the Great Horn Spoon!" roared bull-faced
McBugjuice, "look at that, eh, what I"
Buckie and I dismounted to kneel in the trail and
"A white man," said Dandy in his best official
manner, stating aU that was really obvious at a
nfile. "Afoot," said he; "that's strange. Heading
■for Une's too. Who can it be, afoot! Long
210 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
boots," he crawled past me, jostling for room,
"police heels. Load on the off shoulder — dead
weary, too. Here's the right foot — "
"Damn that Brat," said I, for in the deeply in-
dented right track there was no sign of the toes.
Here was my wretched brother, a hundred miles
from duty, limping across the plains with an open
wound. The blasted Bi^t needed a feeding teat
and a bib. I swou I would tear his hide off, and
stretch the dirty pelt for a drum-head. So we rode
on with His Obesity, the sergeant detective, burbl-
ing in the rear.
From the moment we turned eastward away from
home our three horses said they were seriously un-
well, dead lame, with symptoms of giving up the
ghost; and ninety miles at a happy gait is nothing
compared with six at an exhausted crawl. So we
were bone-weary and sick of life when he made
Lane's at dusk. There were no signs of our jail-
birds as we trailed down into the Milk River coulee.
They had not yet arrived.
But my Brat would be at the house, and arrested
for deserting unless I warned him. I whipped out
my gun and rolled it while Black Prince, Bud..c
and the sergeant threw hysterics.
"Don't shoot!" cr.fd Buck!;, when my gun was
emptied, "we want them liiic/es I"
"Dam' cheek, shootin' no ordahs. Damme I" roar-
ed the sergeant when I had sheathed my gun.
When we reached the house there was Lane,
lounging in the only doorway, and hailing us.
"How, ShermogonishI (Welcome, soldiers.) Af-
ter deserters, eh ? Well, now, I alius aim to oblige
you police gents. Got one for yous right here."
He jerked his thumb back. "Which he shorely tried
to get away when he heerd them shots."
My Brat was caught in Shifty's trap all right, and
feeling very sick I led the three horses away to
stable them. But Buckie came running behind, and
whispered to me, "We'll see to your brother. Don't
worry about that. You want to keep your eye
skinned watching Shifty. See he don't signal them
When I got back from the stable I found my
brother sitting on the door-step.
"Hullo, Brat!" said I. "Deserting?"
Brat was weak with the pain of his wound, slack,
with fatigue and looked very frail for such a life
as ours. I was always rough and ugly, lacking his
patrician fineness, the grand air, the gentle grace,
212 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
envious a little of his large, soft, brilliant eyes, his
amazing charm of manner. He gave to our majestic
Spanish a sweeter resonance. He pleaded with me
for help, for sympathy, telling me why he came to
Lane's afoot. Did I think, he asked me, that no-
body but myself had the right to rescue a woman?
There was a bench by the door, with a basin, soap
and a towel, so while Brat told me his trouble, I
stripped to the waist and got comfy. Then I called
Buckie and talked with him in whispers lest Lane
"Buckie, my Brat says that this horse thief, Low
Lived Joe, kidnaped Lane's girl and sold her."
"Yes. Down in Wyoming. She's a white slave
at Cheyenne. She wants to be rescued."
The detective sergeant had joined us, and broke
in with a hoarse stage whisper audible for miles.
"Ought to have got a pass, eh, what?"
"Refused," said Brat, "Sam wouldn't let me go."
"Long walk, by thundah. Thousand miles-
more, to Cheyenne. Ought to have stolen a horse,
eh? Damme! Yaas."
"It's too late now," said Brat.
"Shouldn't get taught. Desertion. Looks dam'
bad. Can't be done— no, damme. Got to arrest
you. Can't have this Lane person reporting me —
neglect of duty. Yaas."
Brat looked up at the big whole-hearted ruffian.
"Lane would report you, and Sam would break you,
Sergeant. I'm not going to run away, '^o have you
smashed. Is there no way, Sergeant?"
Ithuriel F. McBugjuice scratched his head and his
piggy eyes narrowed to slits. "It's like — er — your
blasted cheek," he said out loud. "Does Shifty
Lane know? Eh, what?"
"Know what?" came Lane's rasping voice from
the house. "Know what?"
"That your daughtah, young Got-Wet, blast your
soul, has been kidnaped by Low Lived Joe, con-
found you, and sold for a white slave, you — er —
jumped up swine, and you stand there gulping as if
you liked getting half shares in the price of your
girl, you toad! Yaas! damme!"
I saw the trader turning gray with horror. Rage
would come next against the partner who had so
betrayed him. So our detective would use Shifty
Lane for the capture of Low Lived Joe. The trader
made no sound, no comment, but turned away, bent
down and looking very old, to collapse in his raw-
hide chair beside the stove. His squaw came out
and beckoned that supper was ready.
214 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
After supper it was my job to unsaddle, water,
feed and bed the horses, but I hid a sort of muddled
feeling about Low Lived Joe and his partner, the
Kid. They were coming, and we wanted to see
them come, but if they found police horses with
banged tails in the stables they would quit coming
and pass the house severally by instead of leaving
cards. Moreover, they miglit be in need of remounts,
and borrow our horses, leaving us all afoot. So I
tied the horses to the fence behind the house, and
made them comfy there. As for the saddles, I
lugged them into the house.
And if I was any judge of blackguards, old
Shifty needed watching. So I sat in the doorway
for my evening pipe, trying to keep awake. From
where I squatted I could see the lamp-lit living-
room, as well as the moonlit yard. Lane and his
squaw took the lamp with them into the litt'e inner
room where they slept, pulling its doors to, until
the latch caught on its hasp with a click. The moon
poured treasure of silver light into the living-room
of that evil house.
McBug juice lugged over his saddle and spread
his cloak and blanket across the inner door. On
the sneck he hung his serge, his waistcoat, and his
boots which would fall on his head and wake him
if any one tried to get out of the bedroom. In his
elephantine way he had a certain slyness — that de-
tective. He turned to my brother, who sat crouch-
ed beside the stove.
"Ah, here you are, Brat. Share my bed, eh,
My brother hobbled across to thank him for his
"Promise not to run, eh?" He was belting on
his side-arms for the night. Brat glanced at me, and
I made "Don't" in the sign talk.
The fat detective grunted dismally, then took his
hand-cuffs from the pocket of his vest, put the key
back in the pocket and shackled Brat's right wrist
to his own left. So they turned in— "Indeed, ah!
Doosed chilly, eh, what?"
Meanwhile, the ever-dutiful Buckie fussed around
in the yard, taking ostentatious precautions by way
of setting me a good example. He passed the loop
of his rope around a plank of the stable door,
stretched its fifty-foot length to a point abreast of
the house, then made the rope-end fast to the collar
strap of his cloak, and laj down in his blanket with
the cloak pulled over him. The only things left in
the closely-guarded stable wtre my cloak and blan-
ket, but when I said so, he was most ungrateful.
ai6 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
He told me he was a corporal and my superior of-
ficer, with more to the same effect, rie flounced
across my outstretched legs in the doorway to get
inside the house and bed down warm by the stove.
But, however funny, he was never vulgar, never
used coarse language to relieve harsh feelings like a
common trooper. He continued to set me a good
example and teach me official language, until his
muttered declamation tailed off into a snore. I
strolled across to take his telltale rope off the sta-
ble door, lest it should warn the robbers.
On my way to the stable, I noticed that Shifty
had his lamp alight behind a red blind in his bed-
room window — a danger-signal that. When I came
back from a good-night talk with the horses, that
lamp was still alight, but the red blind was gone.
Shifty had signaled, "All clear. Police gone away,
come in !"
As far as Shifty knew, the robbers would come,
would find police horses with banged tails in the
stable, and be on their guard as they approached the
house. He never really loved the police. We should
be caught asleep, in the dark house, at a disadvan-
tage, shooting at one another by mistake.
Haste is a fool's passion, so I sat in the doorway
Surely those robbers would find no sign of police
until they were safely trapped inside the house. I
could hear Shifty Lane fussing about in his bed-
room—just like a bottled bee. I was very drowsy.
Still, in my little Dago way, I went on plotting
against the whites. The robbers must have been
watching from some hill until they thought it safe
to approach. Now they would come, and I had
barely time for the next move in my game. I slipped
into the moonlit room, took the key of the hand-
cuffs from the detective's vest pocket, unshackled
my Brat, aroused him and told him to clear out
and rescue Got-Wet. I had to take him by the
shoulders and run him out of the house.
When he was gone, I slipped the handcuff over
my own wrist, but left the key in its lock, then drew
the whole of the detective's blanket over me. Be-
ing thin, I needed the blanket more than he did.
And being cold, he would wake up as I intended.
Brat stole back, waited until I snored, then roused
up Buckie, who grumped at him most wrathfuUy.
Poor Brat was smoking a cigarette, quite ostenta-
tiously at his ease, while, by the glow from the
stove, I could see the big tears trickling down his
face. He hawked, coughed and sniffed, getting con-
trol of his voice before he could speak without blub-
2i8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
bering. "Corporal," he began very stiffly, "we're
comparative strangers, eh ?"
"Oh, give us a rest I"
"But I want this to be private — off duty — see?
You and my brother are chums."
"My brother loosed me I"
"Well, what of that?" '
"He has taken my place — shackled himself to the
sergeant. He'll get a year's hard labor and dis-
missed from the force !"
"Serve him right!"
The youngster's voice broke beyond all control.
"A La Mancha," he wailed, "the La Mancha dis-
gracefully expelled I He'll shoot himself as sure as —
We've got to save him before the sergeant wakes.
Got- Wet can go to blazes I"
My medicine was working famously.
It is only on looking back that one sees events in
their sequence, their ordered movement toward the
inevitable end. I changed places with Brat, expect-
ing to be in irons for half an hour or so, until we
went on duty to catch the robbers. Brat, being a
gentleman, could not possibly leave me in the lurch
to save a dozen Got-Wets. My only idea was to
show him his own heart. I never dreamed of the
far-away years to come when I should owe my life
tc Brat's lifelon/y gratitude.
Meanwhile, he had Buckie roused to a royal rage,
fully alert, vindictively chucking wood into the
stove. The stove was opposite to the open door, its
glare would light the room for our job of trapping
robbers. It would lure the robbers in with hopes
of a rousing supper, and blind their eyes as they en-
tered. Yes, my scheme worked to perfection.
Buckie was rousing the detective, who sat up drawl-
ing, "Have I the bleedin' rats, or am I sobah?"
Then he saw me, and asked what the deuce I was
playing at. I told him the robbers were coming,
so he had better loose me. He unlocked the hand-
cuffs — indeed, ah I
Log walU, hewn planks, black beams hotiy aglow
with restless, flickering lights from the stove; cool
stiU moonbeams raining to sapphire pools upon the
floor; the silence, like some great visitant angel of
the plains folding his wings in the doorway; our
hearts beating like drums as we stood listening:
then the soft pulsation of horses quivered under-
foot, a quick, deep, throbbing chord of hoof-beats
from the bridge, a trampling close at hand, the tin-
kle of a spur.
A youngster clattered in with trailing spurs, d g-
220 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
ging a sack which crashed and rattled over the door-
step. "Rouse out!" he shouted. "On yer banglers,
Shifty! Where's yer squaw? There's antelope
venison coming !"
The door swung to behind him, Buckie whipped
the gun from his slung holster, McBugjuice whis-
pered, "Shui your mouth or I'll drop youl" and I
clapped the handcuffs on Alabama Kid, while Brat
dragged off the suck load of Beauderc's plate.
Then a gunshot rang sharp outside, we heard a
choking cough, and something fell through the
door, shoving it wide open. Low Lived Joe lay
dead in the pool of moonlight.
With a flying leap, I smashed through the inner
door into the bedroom, and caught old Shifty climb-
ing through the window from whence he had shot
his partner. I took the smoking rifle, and led him
back to the main room, where he crouched in his
rawhide chair shaking all over, muttering, staring.
The red glare from the stove was upon him as he
faced that dread figure asprawl in the moonlit door-
way. " 'Twas me as done that," he kept saying
with an air of surprise. "Me shorely 'as done that
— 'cause he sold my darter. Got- Wet, I done that."
His old squaw had followed us out of the bed-
room, wrapped in a gray blanket, her gray hair
streaming, her gray face cold as death, and in a
dead voice, without emotion or even interest, she
spoke across the room to me in Blackfoot.
"I lay aside the silence of fifty snows. It is the
time for speaking. I speak to you, Charging Buf-
falo, and you must tell these Stone-hearts all my
"My man, Bad Mouth, sitting there by the fire-
light, let that poor boy (Alabama Kid) run up a
heap of debt. And the dead man there threatened
him. Those two bad men drove the boy to stealing.
They made him into a thief. The boy has done no
wrong, and he is clean. Let him go."
"Mother," said I, when that was translated, "we
thank you for words which will save the boy from
She turned to my Brat. "Warrior," she said, and
I translated phrase by phrase, "you loved my daugh-
ter. Got- Wet. The dead man there was her lover.
She made him run away with her. Then she de-
serted him. He was too slow to keep her company
on the way she went to shame. Think no more of
my daughter, who laughs at you always.
"You, Bad Mouth," she spoke to her own man,
"I am no longer your woman to be dragged down
333 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
into shame. I am a daughter of those who do not
lie, or cheat, or betray. I go to the camps of my
So, in the end, the Alabama Kid was acquitted,
and is a wealthy rancher. Lane died in prison. His
woman went to her people and lived in honor. As
to my Brat, he was punished for breaking barracks,
and promoted to the rank of corporal for his help
in breaking up a gang of criminals.
A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDEK
IF I were a painter I should make three pictures.
For the painting of Life I should dip my brushes
only in sunlight and starlight. That it .contrast
with the darkness his figure should stand radiant.
For the painting of Hope the sunrise should be my
palette, and robed in splendors of the sky, triumph-
ant he should ride an unstable sea of glory. But
for the painting of Memory, when I had used up
all the sunset, I should pray God lend me a pot of
It is that glamour which allays the burning pain
of memory, the fierce regret, the anger, shame,
remorse. The stark event, the odious consequence,
the bitter aftermath are all, as one looks back, ar-
rayed in lovely hues of distance, and a sweet magic
torn from the veil of time, bo I recall that last
year of my service in the mounted police; my soul
224 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
which outlived defeat becomes victorious. He viho
stumbles and falls not, only mends his pace.
First I must speak of Sam, the young superin-
tendent commanding D, an Irish-Canadian gentle-
man of a service family, and Regimental No. i of
the mounted police. Because he was a bom soldier,
a record-breaking horseman, a great scout master
and an incomparable leader, the untameable out-
laws of the force were sent to him for treatment.
They feared him, as they feared death, ate out of his
hand, and made his division the crack troop of the
outfit. He would carouse with his troopers all
night, and punish us in the morning for being dnmk,
would drill us till we smashed, punish us without
mercy and prove our best friend when we were in
trouble. We loved and hated him fanatically, and
like inspired fanatics made a crusade of our duties.
The troop was just as brilliant as its leader.
In 1887, Chief Isadore and his Kootenay tribe
were restive, so the province of British Columbia
asked the Dominion government for help, and our
troop was sent across the Crow's Nest Pass of the
Rocky Mountains. Our base camp was the site of
Fort Steele on Wild Horse Creek.
Now an English curate came to pass, and grieved
at our spiritual destitution proposed an open air
A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER 225
service. So Sam, being by his blood Anglican.
Royalist and a soldier, ordered a church parade.
Whereupon some of us became Roman Catholic,
others found that their duties forbade attendance,'
and the rest of the troop went sick. Hence, a proc-
la.nation that at the sound of the bugle, cooks and
Catholics, sick, lame or lazy should attend Sam's
church parade on pain of death. Sam had his back
up. Also the troop had its back up and in mass
meeting resolved that any son of a sea cook presum-
mg to sing, respond or contribute at a compulsory
church parade should afterward be drowned. The
service was therefore a duet between Sam and the
curate without any sound from^hft chorus. After-
ward Sam preached, anSouncing a second church
parade next Sunday and hinting at setting up drills
which would make the dearly beloved brethren sweat
That afternoon at the bathing place we tried Beef
Hardy by court-martial for contributing to the cu-
rate's oflfertor/ He proved that he was only a
civilian interpreter attached, and that his offering
was a button. We had to let him oflF, but the whole
troop yearned for somebody to drown.
"Brethren," said I. "Sinners! When that kind
gentleman saved our souls this morning, it was
226 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
borae in upon me what an abandoned parcel of
Gadarene swine you all are — except me. You forget
that our Sam is Smoothbore, the father of many
"Ho I Catch on to the Blackguard sucking up to
"Triplet. I'm a man, and you're a nasty trick
played on your mother." i
The sentiment was cheered.
"And now," said I, "my little friends, I'm going
to break out in a new place. I've got religion, and
I don't propose to let you pollute my holy peace by
using bad words, unless you think you can lick me."
"Why, dammit!" howled Red Saunders, who had
the foulest mouth in the troop.
"My erring brother," said I.
He dived, and fully dressed as I was I followed,
holding him tmder water by his gaudy hair until he
made signs for peace. Then he came up spluttering
"But 'ow the devil—"
I told him not to brag about his father, then called
him a catechumen, which knocked him out
"Wall, I'll be damned !" said Pief ace.
"True," said I, and immersed him. "Dost thoa
A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER 227
r^t Ace. Pieface? Art thou resolved to live a
godly hfe, and pay me back three dollars that thou
I drowned him until he promised to sing in my
choir next Sunday. S n my
So finding that troopers were not allowed to
«wear Mutiny. Tribulation and Calamity, who al-
ways hunted in concert, began a combined attack
upon St. Blackguard.
On that, five decent men who disliked foul lan-
guage promptly joined my choir for next Sunday
and proceeded to enlist with contusions Mutiny
Calamity and Tribulation. These with Red and Pie-
^ce for choristers-by-force, made eleven singers.
«=ook Th.8 learned doctor of beans and sow-belly
outweighed me mainly below the belt, but was so
fat ttat I found his vitals very hard to come at, and
feared I should be overlain and smothered. Nine
nmnds we fought before he could be converted; but
with hm, came three penitents whom he had thrashed
that summer, and when they confessed their errors
I had half the duty men for choristers at a cost of
only two black eyes and an inflamed ear.
Nothing would suit me now short of triumnh
over all the wicked, but to secure a unanimorsZe
228 THE CHEERFUL' BLACKGUARD
I must use the curate. Him I waylaid in the dusk,
and gave him so smart a salute th9*. his mule bucked.
I picked him respectfully out of a rose bush and
asked permission to speak with him in private.
"I want to sample your religion, sir."
The padre seemed to be shaken and resentful,
saying that his religion had that very morning been
freely offered. '
"Freely?" I asked.
"You mean the parade was compulsory?"
"Yes, sir, rammed down our throats, an insult to
Pater Noster. Any man guilty of taking part in
that was to be drowned imtil he apologized to the
"By jove," said the padre. "The next serv'-e
shall be free. But will they sing?"
"Turn loose the national anthem," said L "Any
man shying at that is a traitor. Cover your lectern
with the Union Jack, and the boys will stand to at-
tention. Leave your sermon behind."
"Because each of us has lived more, sir, in twenty
years, than you will in sixty. .You can't teach until
"You forget," he said huffily, "that I bear a mes-
A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER 229
"A sword, Padre, in the hands of a fool."
He stepped back, tripped and sat down with a
bang, very thoughtful.
Presently he tamed himself and, thinking of my
words, "Pater Noster," asked if I were a Roman
CathMic. His tone was full of bitter prejudice.
"Outdoor men," said I in my cock-surest manner,
"don't join indoor denominations."
"You dare to call the church— that !"
"Has it not doors?" I asked meekly.
"Yes," he shouted, "and they are wide open to all
"With a stuffy smell inside."
"You are irreverent. The church is "-oly."
"Our Lord," I spoke sincerely now, "described the
thurch of His time as a den of thieves. As to what
He said about the priests! I don't want to be rude
to you. Padre. To get away from the church and
the clergy He preached outdoors, lived in the wil-
derness and replaced all your dogmas and your doc-
trines with one word— Love. Do you foUow Him
^^ I stepped back. "Do you know, sir," I asked,
"what the ancient Greeks did when it rained? No?
They got wet, Padre. You do the same." I passed
behind a bush, and he thought I vanished. After-
230 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
ward he told Sam that he had met the devil, and
wrestled, coming out triumphant.
On Monday, the airate came with us on our
march to the sources of the Columbia River. There
at Lake Windermere, a steamer brought several
loads of stores which we trans-shipped by wagon
to our various outposts.
And so it was in canfip at Windermere that the
curate held free service, all hands and the cook at
tending. The flag on the lectern constrained us to
decent conduct. The singing, led by St. Black-
guard's choir with the national anthem was a great
success. It rained right heartily, and in our cavalry
cloaks we watched the padre getting wet like a
sportsman. He cut the sermon and got a thumping
offertory. Sam was pleased all to pieces, and on the
betting I came out forty-nine dollars and fifty cents
in solid cash.
In sober earnest, my choir toned down the lan-
guage of the camp to the verge of decency, and
from Buckie's Bible, which I had been reading
steadily for a year, I set a good example to the troop.
Thus, when the steamer skipper sold me a box of
cigars: "The wicked shall consume," said I, "at two
for $1 quarter." They did, but some of the wicked
A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER 331
thought, in their fond way, that they could con-
sume on credit.
"Young Murphy," said I, "thou owest for eight
of the best"
"Oh. come off I What d'ye think yer playing at ?"
"Surely," said I, "the wringing of the nose brine-
eth forth blood."
It did, and Murphy paid.
The box of cigars having netted twelve dollars, I
got seven others worse than the first which fell on a
stony crowd but yielded two hundredfold.
Next, the steamer cook sold me a litter of little
pigs, and our cook supplied the husks which my
swine did eat, so that they grew and waxed fat and
kicked over the oat bin.
"Some evil beast," I told Buckie, "hath devoured
two whole sacks of oats, and the quartermaster, he
rageth furiously. He calleth upon the officer com-
manding, so I've sold out all my pigs. They're not
our pigs now, Buckie— not unto us the praise— not
Buckie had a natural aptitude for being shocked.
Two of him plus one harmonium would equal a
The padre was a bigot, Buckie a prude, the boys
332 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
were just ruffians, and none of them understood that
I, the poor troop jester, with an aching heart, felt
the need, the first faint stirrings of a real religion.
The camp beside Lake Windermere was destined
to be my last before I ^left the force. So I recall
the last evening of my peace, dwelling on all its
memories, so bitter sweet.
I was in Buckie's tent, and sat by the dooi with
palm and buckskin needle sewing a little sack of
milk-white antelope hide. Red Saunders, still my
friend in those days ere ever I knew him as an
enemy, sat by me with his button-stick burnishing
timic buttons for to-morrow's guard. Yonder,
across the way was Sergeant-Major Samlet, a ple-
beian parody of Sam, out patrician chief, instruct-
ing Buckie who wore the orderly corporal's cross
belt for that week. With them stood the orderly of-
ficer, poor old Blatherskite, his f rogged coat sharply
black against their scarlet. In the nearest tent on
my right were Brat, in charge, Beef Hardy the
scout, Pieface and Spud Murphy of Cor-r-k, play-
ing poker, silent as the grave. In the nearest tent on
A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER 233
my l«£t, that queer triumvirate, Mutiny, Calamity
and Tribulation, were concocting secret plots with
which the welkin rang.
And at my side Red Saunders comfortably
"When a man's got a 'orse," he growled, star-
ing across at Blatherskite in a somber passion, "and
grooms that 'orse and feeds that 'orse and rides 'im,
and gets to like 'is 'orse, and the 'orse tikes to 'im,
see? And some blatherskiting — of an orficer tikes
thet 'orse awi' from 'im, and 'e bucks stiff -legged —
wot I says is hair on 'im I"
I might 'ave 'eard much more about that 'orse,
but Detective-Sergeant Ithuriel Fatty McBugjuice
( Damme t) flicked me as he passed by with a bath
towel (eh, what?) and bade me come for a swim in
the blawsted lake. (Indeed, ah I) As he had taken
oflf his serge with its gold badge of rank, I went with
him in the evening calm to bathe. Afterward,
Buckie's official duties permitted him to sit with me
on the lake shore while I smoked.
Above the mirror lake with its flaws of silver, the
dull gold hills bore scattered firs of solemn indigo,
and faint in the gloaming loomed ranges of purple
mist edged with the cold blue pallor of high snow-
324 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
fields. There floated the upper pinnacles of the Sel<
kirks against the afterglow. And one by one white
stars came out on guard.
I told Buckie that I intended to get drunk. He
stiffly advised a milder line of conduct, and indeed
milk with a bun would have proved too exciting for
Buckie's indigestion department His mother had
a weekly letter from him to say that he wrote in the
saddle, at the summit o^ the Rockies surrotmded by
hostile redskins, a bloody sword in one hand, a
smoking revolver in the other. These letters were
"Lead Kindly Light," he hummed. "Lead thou
me on." The mother was his kindly light — but
mine went out He had a girl, too, who fancied him
as a buck angel, whereas I suspeasd the prig even
as corporal, and knew he would be an insufferable
I, too, had been in love, and in my kit-bag was a
photograph album of all the girls I had been en-
gaged to mart except the little lot which got
burned in Carlton. I had tried to be good for each
of these, except when they liked me bad, and even
now could go straight — with occasional side-steps —
if somebody really cared.
A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER 235
Buckie swore he cared— but what he really cared
for was to be sergeant-major.
Brat cared for me, but he had dumb yearnings
coming on at the time, and wrote bosh in verse.
Then Buckie suggested that my people loved me,
but that was a sore point with an ache in the middle.
My fat aunt and my fat uncle had lately got religion
and were spending Brat's money as well as mine on
a private chapel, a stout priest and that family
patron of oars, the excellent San Jiminy. Him they
begged to use his influence on behalf of the dear
Brat and the beloved Blackguard to have us rescued
from the sins of envj-, covetousness and blasphemy
—by post, to get us delivered from the alluring
temptations of riches in a wicked world, that we
might inherit the family pew in Paradise, wear the
La Mancha halos, and twang the heirloom harps.
Their son would bear the burden of our earthly
On learning these things I wrote to Tita saying
that Brat and I were so robust in health that San
Jiminy must surely be neglecting the family prac-
tise. Why not chuck him and take on San Diablo
who had done so well .or Tito?
Tita's response as trustee was all about blasphemy,
336 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
and my req.iest for statement of account was piously
ignored. Hence, my letter to our Cousin Isabella,
begging Her Catholic Majesty to revive the good old
Spanish inquisition, and have dear Tita fried.
The Queen Regent answered, telling me not to
fuss, and sending my father's jewel of the Golden
Fleece which she bade me wear as a remembrance.
Of course I was being fleeced, not that Her Majesty
was capable of a joke or any other breach of eti-
quette. I wore the jewel slung on a slender chain,
and because the diamonds were scratchy against my
skin was making it a little buckskin sack. I ex-
plained to Buckie that the thing was a popish object
used for idolatry. That shocked him all to pieces,
for Buckie was a Prot.
But why, he pleaded, should I get drunk?
I threw him our homely Spanish proverb, that
wine is the tomb of memory, but it was no use
throwing pearls before a corporal. He could not
understand. Nor could I fully understand the ach-
ing of my heart, the bitter pain.
The Blatherskite, open-mouthed and shut-eyed
as any hippopotamus, had sent a corporal only last
week to ask if I would take on as his servant. Now
Sam could .claim a cadet for his esquire, but in
"A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER 237
Blatherskite it was most infernal cheek. A hippo,
which neglected its tooth-brush, ate its beans with a
knife— I sent it word that it might kiss my socks.
I come of a breed trained to obedience and the com-
mand of armies from the days when Spaniards con-
quered and ruled the world. The badge of the
Golden Fleece was mine by right, and to stand cov-
ered before the kings of Spain, my peers. But Spain
is only a barren little country with a scattering on
her moorlands of poor shepherds, unable to hold her
own among the rich and populous nations of to-day.
She had no armadas or armies left for her conquis-
tadors to lead, no more new worlds to be made Chris-
tian by her gallant priests, no work for us La Man-
chas and our kinsmen. But robbed of our heritage,
and driven from our country, the Brat and I were
not less caballeros than our fathers, were still well
able to earn our bread and wine as men-at-arms un-
til Spain had need of us. A knight of the Golden
Fleece may not be soldier-servant to any sort of
hippopotamus. And the wound rankled. So I would
get drunk and assault the guard.
And yet — the words came somehow from the air.
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence
Cometh my help." I lifted up my eyes and saw the
238 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Selkirk Mountains, range on range dissolving into
night; and far away against the upper snow-fields
caught a faint glint as from some fallen star.
"What's that light?" asked Buckie, and I laughed.
For that was the light at the Throne Mine, where
Loco Burrows lived as caretaker in charge. The
Burrows woman wrote that she could see our camp.
I was to address my letters "Mrs. Sarde," which
sounded more important 'than Miss Burrows. She
wanted me to call. That was the help from the hills,
and I laughed out loud, jumping to my feet. Sup-
pose the woman were to marry me! What a lark
it would be to take her to Madrid — ^to the dullest,
stiflFest court-of-frumps in Europe! Enter that cat,
and see the mice climb !
Then I heard the bugle softly crying,
The long day's work is ended."
I stood behind Buckie, my hands upon his shoul-
ders rocking him backward and forward, timing him
to the music "That's what they call 'Taps,' " I told
him, "down yonder in the states, because the beer
taps close." The lovely melody was cleaving sky-
A SHIP WITHOUT A RUDDER 239
ward. "'Ccmie home,' it says, 'come home!' It's all
deportment and sage advice, Buckie. Where's home,
Buckie? If you were in love with a Blackfoot
squaw, would you turn squaw-man, Buckie? Or
would you play with a respectable white pussie
without any morals or manners, and try to forget
about love ? And what's the use of being good when
it makes you a misery, eh,- you poor chaffy cor-
poral? If Christ were here to cast out devils, I'd
have a last tuance left, instead of getting drunk,
and assaulting the guards as a pill to cure me of
memory. Now, go call your roll and report me pres-
ent and correct as usual. You can't steer a ship
which has no rudder, Buckie."
He left me, and all that night my spirit was
by the lake under the holy stars. As to what be-
came of my body —
( ■ \[\
"Women, and wine, and war.
War, and wine, and love !
With a sword to wear and a horse to ride
And a wench to love — give me nought beside.
But a bottle or so at the even-tide !
Women, and \yine, and war !
Women, and wine, and war.
War, and wine, and love !
Oh, war's my trade, but wine's my play.
Wine crowns my night, and war my day
With a kiss or so in a casual way 1
Women, and wine, and war !
Women, and wine, and war.
War, and wine, and love !
Here's a broken head for a drunken spree
When a blue-eyed wench deserted me I
Go, lecture the hussy, and let me be !
Women, and wine, and war 1"
IF Bandy Jones had not been singing Old King
Cole—ovLT version — ^at the time, my song would
have been quite the success of the evening. All the
fellows were gathered at Mother Darkie's buck-
board a mile from camp. We put up the drinks by
turn so far as our money went, and the liquor
seemed to be a sort of delicate blend of sulphuric
acid, fusel-oil and petrol flavored with rattlesnake
poison, "Specially imported, Massa Blackguard." I
tended bar with an arm round the wicked little ne-
gress, proposing to her at intervals. As to the enter-
tainment, Bandy beat a bread pan and howled Indian
war-songs while Tubby Mclmerish talked about an
English tenderfoot — name o' Rams — found bushed
at Horsethief Creek. "Calls me, 'me good man haw,'
"Yes, me deah fellah,' and 'How-d'ye-du-don't-y-
know.' Just like old McBugjuice — more side than a
jumped-up viceroy — and the crawler wearing putties
and a helmet — bet you a dollar he did, then shut
yer mouth — and don't yawp as if I was measles
and you'd caught 'em. I'm tellin' yous about thish-
yer little gawd-forbid, which I brung him into camp
to play with the officers. He's improvin' their
minds at the officers' mess. If you don't believe me
you can see his wet balloon-sleeved pants hung by the
cook fire, arid Rich Mixed eating of 'em."
Calamity Smith was spouting anarchism, while
Tribulation le Grandeur told us about his mare, shot
at Fort Walsh in 1876. The pair made a sort of
duet : "Abart the pore workin' man 'e call 'im ae
abcess gettin' a fair ^how vol you cdl strangles.
243 THE CHEERFXJL BLACKGUARD
heinf I say fair show I So I say to se majof Walsh
Down with the Queen! / say and let her take in
washing says I she's got ee strangles all she's fit
for! Down with the Government! no! no! hoI I
no shoot my mare! and lynch thim millionaires I
Sacre nom de — ^pore workin' man — ^long live an-
archy! She no keek any — Down with everybody !
So I mak shoot my fusil and — and vot that you say
about Queen Victoria, 'heinf Pore workin' man —
/ puil your nose, so. Yow ! You traitor! Ur-r-r.
How you lak me keel you, heinf Help! Help!"
"Time, boys! Time!" yelled Mutiny, jammed in
between these soloists, and getting killed from both
Enter Rich Mixed with the English tenderfoot's
riding breeches, which he reverently laid at my feet.
The trio between Mutiny, Tribulation and Calamity
had become a triangular duel, while Bandy Jones
led off the general salute with hoo-hoo band ac-
companiment on Mother Darkie's kitchen utensils.
"Now here comesh the Ge-ne-ran all ve-num and
And he ridesh like a sack, with a string round
'S head's full of feathers, an' his heart's all woe,
So 'preshent' while the band plays (hic)-shave
Are we condemned ? We were all getting beast-
ly drunk and yet I would not have you denounce
my comrades. Calamity was one of the thirty
men who arrested Sitting Bull's victorious army
after the Custer massacre, and handed them as
prisoners to the American cavalry. Tribulation
arrested a cannibal lunatic, and single-handed
brought him seven hundred miles through the north-
em forest in winter. Spud broke a world record
in horsemanship, riding a hundred and thirty-two
miles by sunlight of one sumnfer day, on a horse
who bucked him off at the finish. Mutiny was the
very greatest of all our teamsters. McBugjuice was
seven days lost after a blizzard, but won through
alive. All had shared in heroic work for the state,
and all alike were drunk. All lived a monastic life,
denied the society of women, barred from every
reasonable amusement, inured to privation and to
self-denial. They belonged to a phase of history not
to be measured by rule of thumb moralities, or
judged by the cheap standards of cities, where men
live for money, are plentiful and small.
For where men do the work of giants, the over-
strain has always its reaction, and if they can not
get drunk they will go mad. So I could name a
dozen of our best men, the heroes of the force who
i : li
244 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
went mad and shot themselves. The drunken times
of the vikings, the conquistadors, the Elizabethans,
the British conquerors, the American pioneers and
those of Western Canada, are ages of energy and
power, of genius and glory, while the sober epochs
may well be those of weakness, fatigue, decay.
It is a comfort that we shall not be judged by
Christians, but by Christ, with the Saviour's large,
merciful understanding. His humorous toleration
and sweet charity, i
Soldier 1 Soldier I where are your breeches, pray ?
Soldier! Soldier! Git up an' dust!
Where the deuce have yer hidden yer brams away.'
Soldier! Soldier! Hustle or bust !
Busted the Bugler? Send him to Hawspital
Can't ye shut up that confounded row ?
Show a leg, and no damned profanity-
Get up an' sweat for a shillin' a day.
Strident brazen reveille, insulting the holy calm
of dawn, lifted me broad awake. The moon-shadows
were running to cover under scented firs, the air
was a thin white ecstasy of perfume, the sky a
rhapsody of tremulous, quickening splendor. The
blue devils of the evening had run to cover. Who
had such friends as mine, such great-hearted com-
rades ? What other trooper in the world was secret-
ly a marquis, knight of the noblest of all chivalric
orders? As for the Burrows woman, let the wench
The bugler, crouched by the guard fire, was boil-
ing his morning coffee. The picket, riding drowsily
homeward, were driving the herd to the horse lines.
From all the tents came sleepy execrations, "Show
a leg there! Get a move on! Rise and shine, you
cripples! Who told you to tread on my face, eh?
Oh, give us a rest, you chaps — who said reveille ?"
"Dress!" cried the bugle, and the day's procedure
took on its ordered course through stables, break-
fast, fatigues, guard mounting — all that ritual of
the service which has for soldiers the flavor of a
religion. The bugle calls are sacred as one thinks of
the "Reveille" in captured Delhi where Nicholson
sahib, God of the Sikhs lay dead, of "Parade" on
the listing deck of the Birkenhead, of the "General
Salute" as Nelson hoisted his flag on board the
Victory, or the "Roll-call" which followed, Bala-
klava, or "Lights Out!" throbbing through stricken
silence on the field of Waterloo. The ritual, famil-
iar to us as mass to monks, gives dignity to all our
humble duties, preparing us to face death that the
state may live.
That morning Buckie put me under arrest, and
346 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
the call for "Defaulters" found me howling for my
solicitor. When any unusual outrage had occurred,
I was always arrested on general principles. This
time, when I appeared before the officer command-
ing, I learned that the tent occupied by a certain
Mr. Rams, a civilian guest, had been invaded during
the night by an alleged buffalo bull. Item, the said
animal bit the aforesaid Rams who was now under
surgical treatment It^. said buffalo was really a
sheep. Item, the teeth of the above-mentioned sheep,
being examined, showed no traces either of blood or
trousers. Item, the alleged trousers were missing.
Prisoner being charged with divers crimes worthy
of capital punishment.
I briefly outlined an alibi with regard to the trou-
sers. Hearing that one Rams was detained in cus-
tody, I had borrowed the cook's lamb and introduced
it The pair appeared to have fallen out, which
was no affair of mine, although it ought to interest
naturalists. I hoped that Mr. Rams would not
occur again because he was too tempting.
I could only appeal to the gravity of the court
So I went back to my tent, and when Orderly-Cor-
poral Buckie followed he found me packing. I
told him I should resign, but even then he kept his
official countenance. Jolly good luck for me, he said,
that Sam was pleased with my ax work— averring
it lodced like the gnawings of remorse. As to the
monstrous cheek of my defense— Sam nearly had
an apoplectic fit If he had been able to keep his
countenance he would have ordered me off to in-
stant death. As it was, he had asked the sergeant-
major if I could be spared for three days* absence.
Sergeant-major said he could spare me permanently,
but even three days' rest for the troop would be
a blessing. So I was to saddle Gentle Annie, and
my horse, get grub for two from the cook tent, and
four feeds of grain in gunny sacks; then to report.
"You're to escort Mr. Rams to the Throne Mine
before the men get at him."
The match never knows how great a fire it kin-
"Them pants." added Buckie, as he turned away,
In EnglUh-speaking books and plays the Spaniard
is a villain, and comes to a bad end. Same here.
But, villain as I am. I do assure you that none
I I "J
348 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
of your saints could have been with Mr. Rams for
a minute without the loss of his hala
When I had warned him that Gentle Annie's
name was Satan, I held her head while he tried to
mount on the off side facing her tail. She meekly
held the seat of his riding breeches between her
clenched teeth, and waited to see what would happen.
With inexpressible joy the troop looked on.
"I say, bloomers 1'" said Mutiny, "they're pont-
"Bet you a dollar," Bandy growled, "that he's
a Roosian spy."
"Them pants is a checker-board for checker toum-
aminks," said the troop cook.
"Jn pantibus infidelium," quoth an unfrocked
priest, one of our teamsters, "requiescat in pantis.
E pantibus cockalorum, gorlia in pantissimus Piccor
For a half a mile out from camp, Mr. Rams was
idioughtful, then in the most sportsmanlike manner
called, "I say, Blackguard—"
"If you want to call me," said I "just whistle
At the whistle, my dog came bounding after us.
But as troop dog commanding the bobbery pack
in camp he had to take the dinner parade, and keep
proper discipline. Alas, regardless of duty, reckless
of consequences, he romped ahead, leading my pro-
cession, for once forgetting his rank and dignity.
The most exciting smells bobbed up all round him.
"Rabbits!" he barked. "Badger 1" he shrieked.
"Oh, snakes I"
"My good man," said Rams with a jolt, determin-
ed to put me in my proper place as a common
soldier. "Two days ago I'd never been on a horse."
"So I see."
"If this was the city, you'd be the tenderfoot,
scared at our traffic. What the hell do you know
about me? Whatever you think, I'm no coward,
facing this beastly expedition."
"All alone, too," said I. "Sure sign of the
throughbred. No nurse. Now if you picked up
my dog by the tail, he wouldn't even whimper."
Rich Mixed had no tail, riot even a bud. That
member had lately been lost in mortal combat.
"Ought to be in a dog's home," said Rams, sur-
veying the patch of sealing-wax which marked the
site of the departed tail.
I said I should be incapable of any such outrage
as a dog's home. "Hybrids are never sent to dogs'
"Hybrid, eh? He does look a rum'un."
2SO THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"They're frightfully infe«i<JUI." I t&Id him.
"Rich Mixed is m hybrid between an old Billy-goat
and a she-bear."
"We thought so. Billy-goat was snch a veiy re-
"Oh, I see, a dog."
"Troop dcg at Battleford."
"She was the bear in the hymn, and her name
was Gladly. You must remember Gladly the cross-
eyed bear in the hyma That's why my dog has such
an appalling squint Of course, though, that's only
when he's cross. Besides, he eats bats, and so con-
tracts bad habits."
"Fine day," said Rams, in his most freezing man-
"You see," I spoke with utter sincerity, "he catch-
es nocturnal habits from eating bats, and mixes up
the nocturnal habits with the hibernating bear habits
of his mother, and also with the climbing instincts
iof old Billy-goat who used to mountaineer on the
barrack roofs. Now you must realize that you
can't be a nocturnal hibernating climbing dog es-
pecially m wmter. He's dismembered by his pas-
sions.. It isn't natural."
"Should think not, indeed"
"Makes him so delicate. Inflammation of the
squetm, you know. Hence the sealing-wax. It
sUys on better than sticking-pls ;.:.-. He eats off
Trotting on three legs, ears c tkel, s^li-^:ng r, nh
affection. Rich Mixed enjoye. ! jng orai • ), it
now he heard the bugle fr.r aw;.y r.«te v. ;.r)''ng
out "Officer's wives," and with a pan*; < f remorse,
knew he'd be late when the call came, "Lnv ■ > ' God."
He bolted to his duties.
As to Rams, at the risk of a dangerous fall, he
lighted a agar. I dismounted to stamp out the
flame from his dropped match in the grass, then
mounting again set off at a racking trot, which
smashed the cigar in his hand and left the remains
smoldering on the trail Without breaking pace,
I swung down, trampled the sparks and vaulted
back to watch Rams having his vital organs torn
adrift and pounded to a hagg-s during an hour of
vengeance. Never again would he smoke selfishly,
or while he lived would drop a lighted match. But
would he live?
I was angty at losing my dinner, and being sent
to Mrs. Sarde's — into temptation. Worse tl.an that,
the presence of Rams profaned a landscape ineffably
I I ;:,
253 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
pure and sacred in its wild beauty. The hot air
quivered with perfume under the fir trees of that
open forest, the birds rang out ecstatic little songs,
canaries flaunted their topaz from tree to tree, and
humming-birds, each like an emerald in a mist, hov-
ered among the flowers.
We Spaniards make an art of living, quick in
every fiber to live, to love, to worship, to sin, to suf-
fer; but, alas, so maay are religious, monks and
nuns mewed up in convents instead of breeding
children. These Anglo-Saxons have no time to live,
let life itself drop lost out of their grasping hands
because they are sires and mothers fending for
their homes, begetters of nations, piling wealth on
wealth, ruling the sea, taming the wilderness, filling
the continents with their endless, meaningless clamor
for more and more. This brutal creature I rode with
could see timber by the thousand feet per acre, real
estate by sections and town sites, minerals by the
ton, the horse-power of cataracts, but not the deli-
cious valley, the aged hills bowed with their weight
of years. My people came to worship, his to de-
It must have been ninety-five degrees in the shade
as we dropped down the white bluffs, and splashed
across the Columbia just by the outlet of Lake Wind-
ermere. I took the sandwiches from my wallets, and
we had lunch in the saddle, walked our horses
through enchanted woodlands where trotting would
seem profane. With a wiy smile, my tenderfoot
avowed that he must have a squeam after all. It
ached,^ he said mournfully. "And yet." he asked,
"what's the usual name for it?"
"Oh, it's only the thing you get squeamish with,"
said I. "Among my mother's people they cut the
Squaminosa Invertibilis in infancy, just like your
doctors cut out the vermiform appendix, and as they
do the killing they ought to know."
He gulped the bait. "Your mother's people?"
he asked, ard offered a cigar, which I declined with
thanks. Havana wrappers covered a multitude of
"My mother's people? Oh. yes," I remembered.
"She's from the New Hebrides. Married my father
when he was a Methodist missionary. But then he
took to preaching against the black-birders, slavers,
you know— so the traders ran him out He was fed
up with the missions, anyway."
Rams was hooked good and hard, so I played
"If only." I sighed, "he had caught the mission
254 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"You see, it's never safe in canoes along the New
Guinea coast. Poor father was caught, and — ^well,
I can just remember the smell — cooking, you know."
"Horrible I But you escaped?"
I couldn't really convince him unless I owned to
that. "Yes, mother and I escaped — swam Torres
Straits, got to the pearling station on Thursday
He swallowed that Uiirty-mile swim, not to men-
tion sharks, and said he had heard a lot about
I thought best to skip the island.
"After we got home," said I, "we were dread-
fully poor. Mother had a perfectly awful time in
London, starving. Then she met Madame Tus-
"But she was in the French Revolution. It says
so in the guide-book."
"Yes, the waxwork business went to her son, you
remember, and this was the grandson's second wife,
I think — a perfect angel, anyway. Mother got a
job as charwoman at the waxworks. How I re-
member sitting in a comer all alone behind those
weird dead figures I They frightened me horribly at
first— in the dark, you know, after dosing timc^
and mother scrubbing the floor down in the Chamber
"Awful place that. Scared me."
"In short frocks." I added by way of local color.
"I was only five. And then came the trouble— fingers
missing from the statues, and ears and things from
the sit-down figures. The management found out
that mother was a Kanaka, from the New Hebrides.
They shoved her in jail."
"And mother a Methodist!" I wiped my eyes
with my shirt-sleeve, deeply moved, then gulped,
and went on bravely. "She'd given up eating such
things, but there it was, the suspicion, the doubt-
fingers missing, and ears— and the nose of Marie
Antionettc— the highest I ever reached. You see.
it wasn't mother. It was me. It was hereditary."
I choked back a sob. "That's why my name's
Rams became very uneasy. He was broke dead
gentle to ride or drive, but shied at cannibals.
From the Columbia crossing up Toby Creek to
Paradise Flat we climbed about fourteen miles and,
scared as I was of night catching us on that dim
trail in the mountains, our horses needed rest. We
found a Mexican packer camped with his bunch of
256 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
burros, keen for a gossip in Spanish, insisting that
we share his venison stew. I slacked cinches and
introduced Mr. Rams to "a Kanaka friend from the
"But fancy Kanakas here I What next !"
"Yes," I confessed, "a lot of my mother's people
settled here to get away from the missionaries. You
see, they eat salt, and it spoils their flavor. We'll
stop for dinner and try Kanaka cooking."
Mr. Rams was at his second helping when a sud-
den thought drove all the blood from his clerkly vis-
age. "What food is this?" he gasped.
"An Indian girl," I told him, "dear little papoose
our friend shot yesterday."
Rams broke for the woods.
The Mexican warned me to make the Throne
Mine by daylight, but when I led the mare to my
poor tenderfoot he seemed in a state of collapse.
And yet I tapped the manhood which underlies the
English character, for ill as he was, and believing me
to be a thrice confessed cannibal, insane and armed,
he faced me like a hero. "Qear out I" he shouted,
pointing me down the trail. "I'll walk to the
Throne. Gear out I"
"I'm to deliver you," said I, "in good repair, and
take a receipt for you."
His sparring attitude was in quite exceMent form,
but I told him to lower the right fist just an inch,'
and wade right in for blood.
The blow on my solar plexus made me reel, but
of course I sttod to attention. He had to be deliver-
ed in good repair, not damaged, at the Throne. His
second made my nose bleed.
"Defend yourself," he howled, and poured in all
he had until his breath was gone.
"When you're done being peevish," said I, "we'll
hit the trail."
"I don't understand," answered my tenderfoot.
"rhat's the trouble," said I, while I stanched
my now. "You don't understand. You mount on
the off-side, drop matches to set the country all
ablaze, foul the stream where my horse drinks,
believe all that you're told, and don't know venisoii
from human flesh. So you have tantrums like a
"Then you're not — a — "
"Cannibal? No. But you're a silly ass."
"Perhaps you're right," said Rams, as I hoisted
him into the saddle.
Dense forest filled Paradise Canon and from its
head a switch-back trail climbed up the flank of a
gigantic ridge. Along its spine we climbed for many
258 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
a weary mile until even the fflidsummer length bf
the day began to fail us md twilight was closing
Ranu talked with a slight twitching of his large,
seductively uglv ep,rs — ^the kind one longs to stroke
— and a faint snufHe of the nose, pinched red by
wearing glasses, which lo<dced quite convivial. He
talked down to me, using nice simple words for me
to understand about the London where he had been
warped. This London of his was not my glittering
City of Joy, and it was quite unlike Red Saunders'
bleak manufacturing seaport. It was the London of
the white Babu which had given him his uneducated
body, his trained unquiet mind, and his opinions to
which he attached no end of importance, giving them
plenty of air and exercise. He was but one of
millions of clerks and students who lived in suburbs,
worked in offices. They improved their minds —
poor things— of an evening at enormous universi-
ties called the Polytechnics where they make prigs.
They spent their Saturday afternoons like sportsmen
watching the games they could not afford to play.
On their direful Sundays, they had theu souls ex-
orcised at Bigotarian chapels contemplating hell, and
they cycled or walked in the parks to give the girls
MR. RAMS 259
Rams senior was a shiny Baptist millionaire who
had bought a knighthood, and sat in the Commons
on the Liberal side, a vegetarian, anti- most things,
and pro- everything else, with no nonsense about
him or any Christian mercy. His daughters were
frumps on all sorts of committees, his sons were
slaves, and this one was a mining engineer. To-day
he rode over his first real rock, so different from the
cabinet specimens, to see his first real mine, not
like the show-case model. The swampy slopes of
Alpine flowers told him nothing about the jagged
schists underneath. The granite spires ahead sent
him no message about God's ice-mills out of then-
purple bloom against the orange sky.
When I told him I had lots of relations in town,
the weary man flickered up to this last expiring
effort as he asked for their names, and where they
"All over the-place," I told him. "You know
them by their coat-of-arms, the Medici Arms— three
golden globes and a side door. They are my uncles."
"Look!" I shouted as some small animals leaped
across the trail. "A chiffon!"
•'A what?" He would not even look.
"A chiffon. It's a sort of four-legged burrowing
a6o THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
bill which inhabits mines. We must be near the
Black clumps of torch-like pines scattered down,
far down a s'ope of Alpine flowers on which we
groped. Alitad was a spire peak of pansy bloom
on a field ot :'-.c snow against the gloaming.
Astern and -^ -itle above our trail a small log cabin
nestled among the rocks, and a candle glowed in its
doorway. Then ahead, quite near, a nook of the
hillside revealed more cabins in the frosty murk.
A lamp gleamed in a window, to guide us up the
rock steps and fields of dusty snow. Here was the
OBSERV ere we come to the Throne Mine,
these various points of view :
Mr. Otto Rams. His point of view revealed to
him a stony broke inventor by the name of Burrows,
to be smoothly cheated out of certain patents for
extracting gold from rock. This was a perfectly
legitimate business proposition.
Doctor Eliphalet P. Burrows, alias Loco. His
point of view was this: that after thirty years of
despairing effort he had discovered, hooked, played
and landed an important mining engineer repre-
senting capital, in whose rays he was now prepared
to lie on his back with all four paws up and pant.
Miss Violet Burrows, alias Sarde, widlet. Her
point of view was: "Once a lady, always cautious."
Miss Violet loved herself, which is the true economy
of the heart. She had the sense to chuck Joe Cham-
bers, cowboy (four hundred eighty dollars a year
a62 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
and board), in favor of Inspector Sarde (twelve
hundred dollars a year, all found, and a social po-
sition). Since the one died and the other cheated,
she had a ridiculous tenderness toward a common
iwliceman (two hundred thirty-seven dollars and
twenty-five cents, a year at awrent rating, less fines,
plus board, waster, no social position). Even had
she known about my marquisate, that, after all, was
only a foreign title, old, worn out — a mere nothing
compared with the brand-new knighthood of Sir
Augustus Rams of Gapham Junction, for which no
less than fifty thousand dollars had just been paid,
cash down. After all, business is business, and
It is true that Joe, Sarde, Rams & Company
were sporadic as flies to a spider, whereas I was
chronic. It is true that the American, the Canadian
and the Englishman were insipid compared with the
Spaniard. They alighted with a bang, whereas I only
hovered, then fluttered off to toke my toll elsewhere.
In my broad track, I left the women bewildered and
rather cress, because I d'd not get them into all
the trouble they wanted. So while Miss Violet's
business principles would always devote her to Rams
in business hours, her relaxation was to dream of
me. She meant to marry Rams, but feared and
hoped I would run away with her. When we ar-
rived, she was effusive to Rams, and cut me. She
tumbled aU over Rams and bored him. What he
wanted was supper, and that right early. He said
80. and Uncle Loco bundled her into the kitchen. So
when I had sUbled Black Prince and Gentle Annie,
I found Miss Violet, and kissed her all over for
a matter of twenty minutes, while the coffee boiled
over, the bacon went to cinders and the beans burn-
ed—just good enough for Rams.
Loco was entertaining quality in the parlor, and
somehow reminded his weary guest of a Clapham
gent. Old Cheese, who always treagled his trousers
to keep off mice.
"As an original inventor," said Loco, with an ele-
vated manner and a nasal intonation, tapping his cel-
luloid dicky. "I share the glorious fate of Galileo.
Faraday, and John Keeley of Philadelphia: con-
tempt, disparagement, starvation— ah. here comes
supper— while we live, and after a death from want
—Let me help you to beans. Mr. Ran»— the com-
memorative statue— and some bacon, Mr. Rams—
the applause of nations! Ah, I see you've laid two
places, Violet. But I have supped. Humbly but
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264 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
sufficiently I have supped. Take these away. Re-
move these, ray dear."
With a clatter of Mexican spurs on the floor, I
rolled in from the kitchen for my supper.
"Ah, Constable," said Loco, "I had — at leas-t, I
guess my niece reserved some supper for you in the
"I only looked in. Burrows," said I, "to tell Rams
here to water and feed the horses. I'm spending the
night with friends."
"Ah, at the 'Tough Nut,' " Loco beamed with re-
lief. "Most welcome there, I'm sure."
His bald head, as he sat there, was quite irresisti-
ble, so I applied a spoonful of mustard and a sprink-
ling of pepper to the shiny surface. Then, leaving
the three freaks to their entertainment, I went out
to the stable.
In a sudden passion of blind rage. Miss Violet
was calling her uncle a damned fool.
So having gone into temptation and not been
tempted — ^which really was disappointing — I found
I was not engaged to marry Miss Burrows. That
was all right. I watered and fed Black Prince and
Gentle Annie. Then gathering both blankets, my
doak and hardtack for my supper, I turned my
back on Freak House, and put but for solitude.
Rams and Miss Violet searched for me long and
loud, but I wanted to be alone.
Only a few paces beyond the cabins. I came to an
edge of space. Thousands of feet beneath lay an
abyss of clouds. Near by on the left the Throne
Glacier made its broken leap, a cataract of ice, while
on my right the clouded gorge of Horsethief
Creek, with murmur of distant waters, curved away
toward the Columbia Valley. There I could see
the faint lights of our camp, and as I watched, a
thread of music, delicate as some blown thread of
cobweb, bade me "Come home! Come home!"
It was last post.
It seemed so far away, that life, that service, up
here among the snowdrifts and the rocks of frosty
silver, which jnit the swinging and eternal star-
field. Here was a sanctuary for driven souls, where
no pursuing evil dared to come near me. This
glacier was surely the throne of our Eternal Father
attended by mists of spirits, hosts of stars and
presence invisible who, with a sighing, wind-like
breath, prayed for His coming to judge, to save, to
I ate my hardtack with a curious sense that this
bread was sacramental, lay wrapped in my cloak,
awake in perfect rest, and at the dawn knelt watch-
tf ftj 1
a66 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
ing for the sun, until the Rocky Mountains were
molten at the edges with his blinding splendor.
Before the freaks were astir, I mounted Blar!;
Prince, told Gentle Annie to come along or starve,
and set out riding in company with health, the god
who lives outdoors. ' No wholesome lad of two-
and-twenty. well armed and mounted, in the glamour
of the daybreak, is ever so unhappy as he claims;
but still the toys at the "Tough Nut" hailing me for
breakfast, relieved a gnawing anxiety below my
belts. A bird in the hand is better than a bull flying.
And after breakfast, they would not let me go,
which pleased me. I had a day to spare. I learned
also that frontiersmen of many tribes and trades
are all one brotherhood— of fools.
"Of course," as Long Shorty told me after break-
fast, "poor Loco doesn't count. He doesn't belong
to our ancient Order of Fools, who follow the
tracks of wandering St. Paul. Bobbie, it's your
wash-up, so get a move on. Bobbie and I take turns
at muddling things."
The prospector coiled his legs on the door-step,
and lighted his corn-cob pipe. "We look down," said
he on those old Spanish miners with their diricy
addera. buckets instead of pumps, and mule Aras-
t«. That's the way Loco jeers at our fissure veins.
He has a pair of rotary fans, which get up a
cyclone between them, and the dust in that cyclone
W.11 tear a steel crowbar to pieces, yes. to dust of
steel. Rock shatters to dust before it has time to
"Put money in that idea, and get at a tangt .
n.om:tains like the Sierra Nevada, which runs a dol-
lar a ton in gold. It costs us two -.rs to mine
and mill, but Loco can do it for nin. , cents. He
can transmute the Sierra Nevada into gold-^d we
prospectors are down and out along with the buf-
faloes and the Indians. We're out of date, says
"Then he's a genius?"
"He's a fool. His fans get cut to powder. When
I worked for him last winter. I offered— for a half
interest— to make him fans which wouldn't get cut
to pieces. I would have cased the fans in bott
which means black diamonds, and made the fool a
multi-bilHonaire. Instead of that, he sacked me
Pity. that. I'd have been halfH>wner of a comer
"What Vfpuld yo^ dp?"
268 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Buy mother an orchard down home in Nova
Scotia. Open up the plains for a nation— you see,
I'm Canadian. Buy a fleet, and station it on the
coast of China to meet the Yellow Peril — you see,
I'm British, too. I'd buy me a horse like that
Black Prince of yours, and"— he glanced ruefully
at his long boots, which were dropping to pieces —
"yes, and a new pair lof boots— that is, if the cash
We looked on trailing mist wreaths, combed by
the torch-like pines at timber line. "The weather's
going to change," said Long Shorty, then scrambled
to his feet, for a man of six-foot five must have
room when he wants to yawn. "Come," said he,
"help me to point some drills."
That man made me thoughtful.
No climb is too high for an ass with a load of
gold — Rams, for example. And here he was at the
top, ready to my hand, so tame I could stroke his
long seductive ears.
Now an ass-load of gold was merely wasted on
Loco, and yet it might be useful to Long Shorty
and Bobbie Broach. They had gone to work in
their turuiel, and left me at the forge to sharpen
drills. Qose by among the spired pines was their
log cabin, with its mud chimney, while an extension
THE SAf ^IFICE
oftheroofniadeapor i„ front. Beyond that
a cutfng in the hillside gave entry to the tu n '
Whose waste reck „,ade a terrace heaped with 1
very ore a-gh'tter in the sunshine. The place w s 1
- bea„t.f„,. so dignified, so aching pL T I
-en were ,n rag., and Kving on half rations, yet
Bobb.e Broach had been bom in a .uddle and stay-
ed there, a woman had muddled Shorty's life for
h.m, but both of them lived straight in a confusing
world. I wanted to be their friend.
Rams, of his own accord, came out for a walk
expectmg as rich men will to patronize the poor'
and put them through their paces. He thought
I had gone back to camp, did not expect to see
Come here " salfl T "t «*>.
^- Let s see your mouth."
My good fellow— er— why?"
"Teeth still all right, eh? Or did Loco steal
He grinned, and murmured that he knew his
I said I knew more about mining than a Fribure
He told me huffily that he had graduated at Fri-
owg, the greatest mining school.
270 THE CHEERFU', BLACKGUARD
I pointed to the tunnel. "Isn't that the best min-
ing school ?"
He scoffed at ignorant prospectors, then sat down
on a log in the forge, with me beside him. "They'll
ask you to dinner presently," said \. "Don't be
unkind to them. Pretend to be genial— but make
them keep their distance. Mention your rich rela-
tions. Trot out the dear Duchess of Clapham Junc-
tion. They'll be frightfully impressed. At dinner,
tell them how much better food you've been used
to, and ask them how much there's to pay. We of
the lower classes love being patronized. So good
"You think I'm sudi an infernal cad?"
"Why, Rams, you've been wondering if you ought
to tip me."
He flushed at that
A chipmunk, proud of his gaily striped fur coat,
was showing off on the anvil "Cheep?" said he
"Cheep," said I, to pass the time of day.
"Cheep!" Polite, but hurried, he found just time
to curl his dainty tail up his furry back to please me.
"Cheep! Cheep!" said I, and he scampered up
my boot-leg expecting lunch.
^•HoVs the nut t»ii5i»«s8, ch, Cheep?"
"Oh. if that's all I" He Kampered back to the aii-
vil, then turned and swore at me.
The distant clang of a hammer now noticeably
ceased, and Broach, a muddy little man with a putty
face, came out from the tunnel, crossed to the shack
and went in. Presently there was dinner smoke at
the chimney, while from the tunnel came fainter
sounds of tapping, then thumping, then silence, and
Shorty came running out. A volley of stones came
flying after him, the hillside quivered, and smoke
poured from the tunnel.
Rams had picked up a thick, short yellow stick
like barley sugar with the feel of wax.
"Give that to me," said I in a sharp whisper.
But he was sulky.
"Put that down," said I, "it's dynamite 1"
I grabbed too late. Rams had thrown the stick
at my chipmunk, and it whirled, spinning over
and over until it struck the anvil.
A red flower seemed to bud there, which grew to
a giant blossom, filling the world.
A pain in my right thigh pulled me awake, to find
myself on a bunk inside the shack. Shorty was
cooking by stove-light, while wisps of red smoke
toiled round hb lanky frame, and rain thrashed the
27a THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
roof. The wind leaped at the cabin, roaring like a
"Rams killed?" I ask.
"We set a broken arm," he said, "and packed him
to the Throne. How do you feel?"
"Dunno. Surprised, I think. Where's Broach?"
"Taken your horses down to your camp. He'll
bring up grub, and a doctor. Here's some coffee."
I found that my thigh was snapped, a simple frac-
ture which my friends had set and splinted without
disturbing me. My skull was bruised, too, and I
did not feel really well when Shcty lifted me up
to pve me coffee.
Then he sat on the edge of the bunk with his own
tin cup. "I guess," he said, "that tenderfoot was
"Threw dynamite at a chipmunk."
"There's a hole," said Shorty, "where we had our
"How much will that cost Rams?"
"Don't know yet. It's our first capitalist, so it's
lucky it wasn't put out of business, eh? That arm
should tie it down six weeks, while we sell it wild-
cats. We've got a dandy bunch of wild-cat claiws,
and they might cost a Friburg expert—"
THE SACRIFICE 273
"Say fifty thousand do" ,rs. Thanks, old man
My bloou came by inheritance, my vices by con-
tagion. My blood was wholesome, healing me rapid-
ly from the start, and as to contagion of vice, or any
kmd of foulness, there really was no room in that
little shack. I do believe most heartily that unhappy
people infect their homes with selfishness, nagging,
peevishness, rancor, melancholia, murder, which
like the microbes of disease, are living evils, the
devils which our Lord Christ found such sport in
hunting. But where Shorty and Broach kept house
there was only room for fairies, and they swarmed.
I k-now, because fairies are so exactly like children
in the way they love noise and mess. Think how
delighted they are in hiding things which humans
leave lying about! Th.se prospectors, for instance,
had mislaid everything they had not reaiiy losf
But if fairies are merely untidy, squirrels are dis-
solute. A pair of them lived in the roof, who kept
a squirrel maid to help them scatter flour, nuts and
cinders. She had lost an eye, and nevr threw any-
274 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Besides these people, I had visitors, beginning
with Sergeant Gathercole, an ex-vet., a nice chap,
and a temperate man when sober. He had a charm-
ing habit, I remember, during meal times of combing
out his tawny mustache with his fork. Gathercole
came with a pack-horse load of government grub,
a proper splint and bandages which made me com-
fortable, and any amount of advice, messages, even
presents from fellows I disliked. The troop, he told
me, was leaving for Wild Horse Creek, but Black
Prince was to stay with our Windermere detach-
ment, and I could send down for him when I was
fit for duty.
For the first fortnight, I had only occasional news
of the three freaks up at the Throne. They lived in
the douda, believing that they held the mighty secret
by which whole mountain ranges could be milled for
gold. They dreamed of wealth beyond imagination,
and carried themselves like demigods— at first.
, Then at our shack there arrived, with pomp and
circumstances. Doctor Eliphalet Burrows impress-
ively arrayed in a silk hat, frock suit and nice brown
shoes. Some one had told him long ago that his
voice was resonant, so he did cultivate the same, pro-
ducing it like a bull frog from his thin hind legs. Ac-
cording to his niece, Mrs. Sarde, he had a most
THE SACRIFICE 375
charming wniJe, ,nd this. too. he used at random.
Indeed, he was so mellow and rotund, so large and
resonant, that one might safely compare him with a
drum— played by Mistress Violet.
He comrasted my trivial injuries with the grave
.condition of his esteemed friend Rams, who had sus-
Umed an oblique fracture of the humerus, whereas
I had only a mere broken thigh-bone. The rich
man's finer nature, so delicately strung, made h.m
most exquisitely susceptible to pain.
Next, Loco proceeded to find hi elf in a most
embarrassin8--ahem-situation. being suah that
notwithstanding the expressed wish of his de-h
niece, I would not permit him to discuss that unf. ,
tunate comretemps which had attended my visit xo
his humble— ahem— abode.
I told him that mustard made the hair grow.
Charmed as he had been to receive as his honored
guest the distinguished English mining engineer
his deah friend Rams, a six weeks' visit was more
than he deserved. The fact was that, to be perfecUy
frank, provisions were running-ahem-and he re-
garded with concern an impending inconvenience to
his Illustrious guest. Now he was given to m,der-
stand that the authorities had placed at my disposal
a pack-horse load of-ahem-ahem- To be pre-
276 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
cise, did I think that, under the peculiar — ^ahem—
which had arisen through my misunderstanding
the — er — nature and uses of dynamite, I should be
— ahem— disposed, et cetera ?
I told him I'd see him damned first, and he said
he would pray for me on his way home.
It is the nature of women to disdain those who
love them, and to love those who abhor them. I
loved all women, so Mistress Violet, knowing she
ovirned me anyway, could not be bothered to call
until I had been about a month in bed. The good
hope of catching Rams was better than the poor pos-
session of her Blackguard, so when she came at last
it was on business, without the least pretense to senti-
ment. I had pretty well cured her of trying that
"I just got," she explained, "to marry Rams, and
that's all there is about it. I've come to sit with you
all the time now to make him jealous."
"I understand," said I, "the watched pot never
"I got him bubbling once or twice," she giggled.
At an elevation of eight thousand feet, water will
boil without being hot enough to cook an egg. So
on this moimtain top. Rams' bubbling point was a
long way short of a grand passion. "Worms ain't
THE SACRIFICE ^„
more slippery." said Mistress Violet. "After all we
Loco's festal apparel and brown shoes, her own
frocks-of the kind which shriek to heaven, and a
heap of household linen, had aU been bought on
cred,t to astonish Ran,s. "As to provision^«y,
Sassl Jells! Egg-powders! Apple-butter! Tomay-
to.s! Pait-defore-grassI We ran our face for the
"But when Rams actually came," said I, " he got
burnt beans, and sow-belly done to cinders."
"Whose fault was that?" she bridled. "Besides
he put off coming, until he arrived with a bang and
we weren't even dressed. We'd been wearing store
clothes for a month-and there was me caught with
my bangs in curling-irons."
'Still, Rams is in clover now."
"That's all you know. We got a house full of
fancy groceries, but no grub. And would you be-
heve ,t-when I sent Loco down for beans, flour and
^acon, the trader at Windermere wanted him to pay
"And now," she culminated, "it's up to you to lend
me fifty dollars."
I saw no fun for me in feeding beans to Rams.
.. I '
f :J i
278 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Besides, my two hundred nice little dollars felt so
snug in my hind pocket They stayed there, too.
I was a very acrobat on my crutches, before the
quality at Freak House bestowed another visit. This
time, my caller was Rams, in a state of panic.
"I may have dallied," so began his plaint, "but
not philandered. Believe me, I never. Once, of
course, I chucked her under the chin, and when she
said that pimples on the neck could be kissed away —
of course ! But it never went so far as a hint, much
less a suggestion."
"Then, why this fuss?"
It appeared that Loco, who had tact enough to
stampede a locomotive, wanted to know the inten-
tions of his deah young friend with regard to his
— ahem — ^niece.
The American heavy father, especially when he
happens to be the heavy uncle, can be frightfully
impressive on that subject. Rams, too, had been
reading Wild West in his leisure moments, and,
as everybody knows, the denizens of that region in-
variably shoot In Rams' dilated vision. Loco Bur-
rows was a westerner, a frontiersman, with symp-
toms of desperado and a gun.
"Asked me," the Englishman groaned, "if my in-
tentions were honorable. As if I had intentions I
Why. my dear fellow, strictly on the q. t, she's
lower middle class I"
"You don't say so?"
"Fact My father. Sir Augustus, you know, will
cut me oflf with a bob. Still. I didn't want to be
"So you're engaged? A thousand felicitations!"
But then he came back next day in a dreadful
state of mind, bearing an old number of the Macleod
Gazette, with mention in it of Inspector Sarde. "We
have much pleasure in announcing that the popular
mspector is coming back to our district Are we
to be introduced to the beautiful Mrs. Sarde we
heard so much of?"
On being confronted with this damning text, the
lady had explained with tears that she was not
exartly a widow, because her late husband was liv-
ing, and had never married her.
V/hereat Rams flew in a passion, broke his collar
stud, and with one end of his collar pointing out the
sun. "said a few words." I fancy he used language.
What an escape !" he said. "Suppose I'd married
her! Why. oh. why. should these awful people be
trying to hound me into a marriage? There's some-
thing fishy. IsmeUarat I'm not such a fool as
28o THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
I look — ^not by a long chalk. If this invention is all
right, why should they — ? I'm off."
Suspicious of anything fishy which smelt of rats,
he went muttering homeward. "Have another go at
Loco's estimates — tampered — suppose— damned —
m'n-m-u. — "
The clouds were trailing along the hill, and a fine
rain washed the autumn foliage into a riot of orange,
flame, lemon and' soft amber, melting into fog
against green gloom of timber, and its deep blue
glades. I was alone since early yesterday, for
Broach had taken his toothache down to the Winder-
mere blacksmith, and Long Shorty had gone with
him for a load of stores. I redded the cabin tidy,
baked a batch of bread, made dinner and my siesta,
then sewed a pink seat to Shorty's blue overalls,
while the rain changed to sleet, the sleet to snow,
and a young storm woke to howls as the dusk deep-
ened into a horrid night. Then the prospectors
came home with my horse and an official If'^er. I
had orders to attach all property of Eliphalet Par-
doe Burrows for debt, and to arrest him on a charge
of issuing fraudulent checks. But morning would
be the proper time for that, and meanwhile there
was supper to cook for weary nen.
And all this time there was an argument proceed-
THE SACRIFICE 281
ingit the TTirone. With an unlimited capacity for
foolmg himself, and none for fooling others, the
mventor had made false estimates of his great in-
vention, and Rams, with the quivering nostrils of
suspicion, at last had found him out. Here were
round numbers rather than square facts, and pretty
httle improvements of dull assays, a few naughts
cocked on to tiresome statistics, and quite a dainty
cookery of accounts. So Rams was shocked to the
Boul at finding bigger rascals than himself, denounc-
ing Loco for swind'lng. forgery and fraud, accusing
Mistress Violet of attempted bigamy and blackmail.
Both said exactly what they thought of Rams, but
Mistress Violet began first, said most, continued
longest and had the best of it. From noon to mid-
night, she made a general confession of the young
man's imperfections, and the depravity of English-
men, denounced her Uncle Loco and bewailed her
fate. And then the trouble began for the two men.
having made common cause against the lady, fell
out between themselves. They got in a passion, and
threw things, including the lamp, which set the
whole place in flames. So while the woman stood
outside wanning herself by that fire, and wearying
the very skies with her indignation, the men, driven
to Ignominious flight, set out upon the trail snarling
382 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
at each other like two dogs. Had they come to me,
I should have tied them together and watched the
fun, but they ignored my presence at the "Tough
Nut," and went on to lay their demands for justice
before the sergeant in charge at Windermere.
The sky was clearing then, and the moon rose on
silver waves of Alps and deep blue troughs between,
along the stormy ranges which crown the continent.
And there the wqman, who had no further use for
Loco or any hope from Rams, was left among black
ruins on the mountainside, abandoned. When a
selfish soul has nothing left but self, then loneliness
is tragic. Like ivy torn from a wall, this creature
had nothing left to cling to, no strength to stand
alone. The bitter dawn wind swept the last sparks
from her burned world, and the raw chill snatched
all her warmth away. So she lay moaning.
Down at the "Tough Nut" cabin, we slept SOtmdly,
having seen nothing but the driving snow, heard
nothing but the storm. But as the dawn light
roused me I remembered that the Throne cabins
must be seized for deb^ and Loco taken down to
Windermere, for which there would be scarcely time
« the brief autunm day. So without disturbing
my f nends I brewed a cup of coffee, and nude Z
way on prutche, to the stable behind the cabin I
.addled Black Prince, climbed to his back and"od
nicks of Ran« and Loco bound for Windermere. 1
found the Throne cabins a heap of smoldering
^^h.ch had been the door-steplay that poor
tnlf J "^u"** '"' ** '=°'"P'*'* ""■«« than usual I
^ her that the moans and wriggles completely
spoiled her performance as a swooning lady. She
wanted to play at abandoned heroine, but I w« ,
eaHoo cold and hung^ for heroics, and toMhe
pretty roughly to shut up. Then she thought thi
he'r r^T"^' ^-^« ^<^^ with the 4h I
h- bndle. forgetting that real paladins never have
8-ele^. I told her that the walk would dob"
good, and a mile of floundering through drifts ce
_^nly wanned the cat. By the time w! reached!
Tough Nut" she was hung,y. and after breakf„I
purred, makmg eyes at the prospectors, although for
a sohd year they had been beneath her notice.
^,11 ^1""''' ^'" '"' *** "''P "y W^nJ* to the
284 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
time had come for parting with Shorty and Bobbie
Broach, and they refused to snare the little wad in
my pocket They lent and saddled their pony for
the woman, and when Black Prince had finished his
breakfast we had to hit the trail.
There was plenty for me to think about on that
long day's march to Windermere. Loco was on his
way to a term of imprisonment, and when he came
back his employer? would not be pleased with his
excessive zeal as their caretaker at the Throne.
Rams, of course, would go home to his native land,
where there are more fools to be cheated than in any
other country of equal size.
And this woman was left on my hands. What
could I do with her? She had no relatives, had
earned no friends, and could not find employment
where there were no employers, and she was desti-
tute, many hundreds of miles out in the wilderness.
Had I been wise, I should no doubt have given her
the couple of hundred dollars in my pocket to pay
her way to the settlements, and there make a fresh
start in life. Had I been wise— but, then, I doubt if
any really and truly wise man would have much of a
story to tell in making a chronicle of his life. Had
I been altogether a bad man, I should have used this
woman committed to my mercy, had her as mistress
until her tongue galled, then turned her loose, the
worse for havi.,g known me, to take the one trail
open to her talents. But had I been altogether bad-
should I confess my errors in a book?
Perhaps there were other ways of dealing with
th.s affair, but at the age of twenty-three. I lacked
the experience which makes all things clear to the
reader. I could see but one way consistent with de-
cency and my honor. And all the way from the
Throne to Windermere, and through the day's
march from there to Canal Flats, and all the weary
trail from thence to the mission. I saw no other
course but that of marriage.
The three years since first we met in the train at
Winnipeg had enlarged the girl into womanhood,
the slattern into a housewife. Shallow she was in-
nately vulgar, with no heart, no morals, and no
mind; but by this time she had learned enough to
wash, to mind her manners, restrain a shrill un-
pleasant voice, limit her temper to only occasional
field days, and turn her increase of beauty to ac-
count in the ruling of men. To this young animal
was given hair as glorious as the sunshine, a skin
I'ke transparent milk, suffused with the glow of
peaches, and covered with a bloom most rare and
lovely, eyes very changeful and bewildering health
386 THE CHEERFUi: BLACKGUARD
strength, grace of bearing, and the temper of the
spring-time between sun and shower. Small bUme
to me if my five senses worshiped this triumph of
nature's artifice, which the creature had for sale for
Sarde's position, Rams' money, or any passbg storm
of her ambition. Those greater women whose souls
are not for sale will be the last to judge her.
We Latins are perhaps more womanish than the
Wond men of the North, having more sympathy,
and deeper understanding of women. It was my
fate to discern, to see right through them, and I had
no illusions concerning Mi-tress Violet Her beauty
appealed with frightful strength to my manhood. In
saying, "With my body I thee worship," I should
speak the truth. But, "With my spirit I thee wor-
ship," I could say to Rain, and to no other woman
I ever knew. Passion I had for many, devotion I
had toward all things beautiful, but love for only
one woman, and her I might not marry.
I have spent days trying to write this passage, to
express in words of clean, just, decisive English
the relations between a man and a woman brought
together in wedlock, where the woman gave all, but
the man gave nothing because he withheld his soul.
"He who called Arms and Letters a pair of sis-
THE SACRIFICE ag^
««". knew nothing .bout their family, for no line-
HM are so far apart as saying and doing."
but look hade, I gabble most confoundedly; but in
ttose day, I was a man-at-arms. I migJt bein"
deedtroop jester, but the jester's habit is the mask
of reticence. I made the woman meny. to ease the
How could I tell such a Creature that, in giving my
hand. I gave my mother's «nk. my mother's dig-
n>t^ The woman might be Sarde's wife, or
S«de s d^carded mistress, for all I cared, but not
Ae Marchioness of the Alpuxarras to tarnish the
old and lovely memories of my house. Raric is a
«sponsib.hty. at times a burden, a thing we try to
forget m our private life. „ot to be soiled in tl«
filthy conversation of camp or barrack, not to be
tarnished by a woman of doubtful character. Un-
less I iould pass my knighthood on to the sons of
a gMtlewoman. the succession would go to my
brother And so, before we parted at Wild Horse
Tr\l *^r *" ^" ^""^'^ ''«P'«S *he badge of
tiic Golden Fleece.
The incompetent in charge at the Kootenay Mis-
s.on was my friend of the church parades, and he
388 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
refused me marriiige. Had he been a Chrittian,
there had been no mAt age, for ever so gladly would
I have made confessi ti to a real priest, and at his
orders provided for the woman in her necessities.
But this parson was merely a creature of convention,
since the weeds of respectability sprang up to choke
the flowering of his soul. He objected to me as a
Papist, to the woman as a Prohibitionist or a vege-
tarian, or some such uncouth sectarian outside the
pale. He objected to the social misalliance, as
though he were priest to a god of etiquette. He de-
manded a permit from my commanding oiHcer. He
demurred on grounds of infancy.
"We don't mind getting married," I told him, "un-
less you prefer that this woman should be my mis-
At that, he collapsed altogether, and merely to
save him from being mixed up in a scandal, that
marriage was made in hell.
"Whom God hath joined," he said, "let no man
"But why blame Him?" I asked, and the service
Of the same breed are marriage and repentance.
Our borrowed pony had bwn left behind at Wind-
ermere from whence the «flora and I rode double
on Black Prince. My broken leg was scarcely fit
for travel, and the wedding delayed us al«, for
~me hours on our way to troop headquarters at
Wild Horse Creek.
But swift and direct went a despatch from the
sergeant in charge at Windermere to the officer com-
mandmgD Division. The news reached Sam a day
ahead of us. '
To him. as the nearest magistrate, it was reported
that Doctor Eliphalet P. Burrows was in custody
charged with fraud, with destroying the security for
h.s debts, and with burning the Throne cabins where
he was caretaker in charge. Mr. Rams was detained
on charges brought by Burrows. Constable la Man-
cha. riding double with the runaway wife of Inspec-
tor Sarde. was on his way to report to the O. C. D.
So we were expected, and on my arrival in camp
at Wild Horse Creek. I was paraded at once before
my officer commanding.
"Constable." he asked, "what do you mean by
brmgjng Mrs. Sarde into my camp?"
290 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"The lady, sir, whom I have brought is the Se-
nora de la Mancha."
Sam turned to the orderly corporal. "Place this
man," he said, "under arrest."
I handed over my side-arms.
"Prisoner," said Sam, "you will be charged with
going through the form of marriage without per-
mission, and in defiance of regulations. You're en-
titled to twenty-four hours to prepare your defense."
"I don't ask a minute, sir. Whatever you do is
going to be dead straight to-day or to-morrow."
"You take a grave risk playing with me," said
"I see, sir, that you're striking camp, for a march.
I don't want to be a prisoner and a nuisance while
there are wheels in mud-holes."
That spirit appealed most powerfully to Sam.
"Defend yourself," he said gravely. "I'm your best
He knew I loved him dearly.
"Sir, I found this lady abandoned on the Selkirks
in several feet of snow. I took her to the padre at
the mission. It was no time for fooling, I gave her
the only protection possible. Sir, you'd have done
the same. Now I've come straight to report."
THE SACRIFICE 29,
"What, go through a mock marriage with an of-
"That, sir, is not true."
"What, you charge my brother officer .'—Corporal
just stand back out of ear-shot. Now, La Mancha,'
what on earth do you mean ?"
I told him of Sarde's bogus marriage with Miss
Burrows, performed by Happy Bill, a bogus parson,
of how the facts were discovered by Joe Chambers,
who died, passing the woman's defense to me, of my
duel with Sarde to obtain her release, and her re-
turn to her guardian. Loco Burrows.
"You bring no charge, then," asked Sam, "against
"None, if he leaves me alone."
Sam recalled the orderly corporal.
"Prisoner," said he, "you plead guilty to a charge
of marrying without leave. I'm sorry to say that
my duty requires me to report this matter to the
.tonunissioner. and he will give sentence. All I can
do is to report with a strong recommendation to
leniency, for. in spite of your defaulter sheet, you're
the best duty man in my division.
"But--why, man. you'd been warned by express
orders from the commissioner that your next offense
::i- ; !
292 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
would be final. You've no more chance than a
snowflake in hell. Don't you see you idiot, that a
constable can't marry an officer's wife, or — or mis-
tress? It's impossible.
"And I won't have a woman with my column. We
may be in for a roii.^h trip crossing the Rockies.
But, then, we can't leave a woman here in the bush.
You'll have to take furlough. Corporal, make out
a fortnight's pass. He'll report at Fort French.
"La Mancha, I think, on the whole, you'd better
turn in your accouterments, kit, all government prop-
erty. I'll advance your pay to this date."
"Is it so bad as that, sir?"
"I'm afraid so. La Mancha. You must leave camp
before watch-setting. Good-by, my boy. God bless
So he shook hands with me.
And after I had gone, he spoke in private to the
corporal. "Warn that boy," he said, "not to report
at Fort French. I'd rather see him desert than get
a year's hard labor, and discharged with ignominy,
or even transferred to the civil courts on a charge of
bigamy. It's expensive sometimes. Corporal, to be
a gentleman, eh ?"
So far as the troop knew, I had a honeymoon
furlough, and as I should visit the United States, my
THE SACRIFICE 353
kit was turned in for safety. The boys raked the
camp for rags which represented my kit turned into
store, so that I had my buffalo coat, blankets and
good clothing to take away with me. Breeches with
the yellow stripe tom off, boots and Brafs old coat
were all I could raise in the way of civilian dress,
bu. the officers gave me a horse, the sergeants' mess
another, the troop subscribed saddles, pack gear and
camp outfit, by way of a wedding present
While I was packing, I came upon my war-dress
as a Blackfoot chief, the gift of Many Horses, dear
Rams squinting brother, on that day, only three
years ago, when I made her a widow. If only I had
I wept when I was bom. and every day explains
the reason why.
The seiiora never guessed that I was outlawed
but seemed much more than content with a hundred
men to play with. She had come down in the world
from an inspector's lady to a constable's poor thing
but seemed much more at home in her new part'
Playmg cat's cradle with Red Saunders. Red 'oped
she would 'ave 'appiness.
Throned in Budcie's tent, she held her court after
supper, while I dragged up my friends and intro-
duced them. "Allow me to present Wee James' legs
294 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
— ^the upper part of him having gone aloft." Wee
James stood six-foot seven.
"This is Tubby, our brevet acting deputy vice-
cook. Allow me to make known Detective-Sergeant
Ithuriel Fat McBugjuice, bai bingah, yaas. The
grin with a face attached belongs to Mutiny. Rich
Mixed makes his bark and wags his compliments.
Here's Sergeant Snuffleton, all present, and correct
waist measurement fifty-nine, my dear, and bustle a
number twelve. Calamity makes his bow. And this
is Tribulation, with a bad cold from oversleeping on
I went to the lines, where Buckie and Brat were
loading my pack-horse, and would not let me inter-
fere with that, or with the saddling. Restless, 1
wandered among the tents, where the boys were pre-
paring for a morrow in which I should have no
share. "Sweat, you poor workers," I told them.
"Lick, spit and polish, for every day has its dog;
but I'm a free civilian. No more parades, no more
pack drill no guards, no cells, no more fatigues ex-
cept good bed fatigue.
"Go it, you pigeon-breasted shawtails, clean har-
ness, you poor-souled rookies, you pemmican eaters,
you pie-biters, you ring-tailed snorters I
"The Blackguard was taken young and raised on
THE SACRIFICE 395
alkal^-everybody's dog on government beans' and
««w-belly. rode sweating hell-for-leather after horse
th.eves rebels and coyotes, wore government socks,
and didn't believe in the gawspel—
"Sweat, you slaves, rustle, you gophers, till the
cvvies send kids to «mp for a convent training, you
sons of sm-but I'm for the open range, and you'll
hear my long wolf-howls by starlight."
Then I was back with Black Prince to say good-
by. and when Brat came to fetch me. I turned on him
with a snarl, blaspheming horribly.
So I got the seiiora astride on a man saddle, and
mounted my own plug, taking the lead-rope from
Buckie to tow the pack-horse, and gave Sergeant-
Major Samlet an episcopal benediction. The whole
troop had gathered round us to shake hands at part-
mg, and fire a volley of old boots and rice as our
bridal procession moved out into the darkness, into
the wilderness. Three rousing cheers drowned the
music of last post, the funeral music which is played
over open graves.
Buckie and Brat came down to the ford of Wild
Horse Creek, and there, w.iile Rich Mixed barked
all round us. I had to say good-by. Brat was laugh-
.ng still over the sergeant-major's pleasure at my
Latin compliments: "Maledkol Maledidte!" Then
296 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
our horses went splashing into the ford, and I saw
my dog break back to his home in camn. for the
bugle was calling "Lights out" to the very stars.
God who mends breaking hearts may have heard me
laugh when my dog deserted me.
The news of my marriage with Mrs. Sarde swept
through the regiment like flames through grass. All
men knew now that either Sarde had made a bogus
marriage, or eWe the Blackguard had committed
bigamy. Then Sarde's position become impossible,
for his brother officers demanded of him that he
clear himself of scandal or send in his papers. He
produced counsel's opinion that a marriage made in
good faith before any genuine minister of religion
would hold in law. He obtained a warrant for my
arrest and extradition on charges of abduction and
bigamy. If I cMne to trial, my very innocence in-
volved a year's imprisonment for desertion from the
To allay the danger of my being arrested, the Brat
and Buckie put about the news of my death, killed
by the fall of a horse down somewi.ere in Montana.
Then Sarde felt safe, and slandered my memory.
When God made everything that creepeth, He
saw it was good. So Sarde was good, but I do not
think that he improved with keeping.
THE SACRIFICE 397
The story of my death grew from a rumor into a
belief, and the old hands remembered that Brat once
had a brother— killed, poor chap, by the fall of a
horse down somewhere in Montana.
We who once served in the great regiment have
often come together by accident in the later years,
meeting old comrades in the Klondike gold rush, or
the South African field force, or the national re-
serve of British veterans. We make new partner-
ships for auld lang syne in Sikkim or Patagonia,
Damaraland or Samoa, or, dressed up like ridiculous
waiters, dining at some white table in town. We
parted as troopers to meet as officers, our scalawags
are squires, our wasters wealthy men, but our meet-
ings are grave with memories of Toby who died a
tramp, of Jumbo who shot himself, of Monte who
was rolled on by a horse. Spirits are calling to us
across the deep from every continent, and all the
oceans. The glass that was lifted for a toast of the
good old times falls broken, because some remem-
bered voice comes from among the candles : "Well,
I have been present when men, who did not sus-
pect my membership, spoke of the tribal memories,
and one of them, I remember, mentioned the Black-
guard kindly, as numbered among our dead.
THE ORDEAL BY TORTUBB
THE husban4 who shows suspicions of his wife
gives everybody to hope that she is dissolute. I
never showed or felt suspicion concerning the Se-
iiora de la Mancha. While a ship's pump runs foul
there may be suspicion, but when the ; earn clears
all doubts are at an end, and it is best to run her
aground out of temptation. At Lonely Valley, the
seiiora was free from temptation.
In summer, I earned my living as a riding man,
in winter as a wolfer and trapper on the Montana
ranges ; but all the year round my earnings went to
the land and fencing, the stock and implements, for
our homestead in Lonely Valley.
I could not become an American citizen without
perjuring my oath of allegiance to Her Brittanic Ma-
jesty, so my seiiora was sole owner of that home-
Until I could get a livelihood out of the ranch,
THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 299
she had to face the tragic loneliness of all pioneer
women out on the frontier. And that was her pro-
bation, test of her womanhood, measure of her
reality, if she would be my wife. I hoped that, with
Uie advent of our son Ernesto, the woman would
find her soul. For the soul has no life in itself, can
not be bom except in love for others, or can not
live save in self-sacrifice.
For the first two years, I think, I was half-dead
with pain, for I could not see the wilderness in which
I rode, or feel the glamour of the sky-line, or taste
the freshness of the air, or scent the perfume of the
plains or mountains. Then came a third year, when
poignant memories dulled down to bearing point,
and I began to live.
All of us. I suppose, have known some usual
hazards of battle, thirst, famine, cold, pestilence,
fire, flood, storm or sickness, perils of the body ap-
pealing to our courage and leaving quite pleasant
memories. I. for one, have found these things good
for me, yet look back only with dread, with horror,
to perils of the mind. There are sorrows of which
even remembrance is screaming agony, and of that
kind was my default from the mounted police. To
forget or go mad, to fight devils and drive them out,
to be reminded and have to fight again, to beat aside
300 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
expedients of drugs, of drinking, of suicide, and face
naked the terrors of memory — all that was part of
my training, the best part, the ordeal by torture.
I had no hope. Unless the ssnora went blind, un-
able to see my faults, or I went deaf, unable to hear
her tongue, the future had become impossible for
both. Yet desperation is mistress of the impossible,
and there was oije way to make the senora's life an
easier burden. I had found out what dollars were
worth when I trieu to borrow some. But I need not
borrow. I was twenty-five, so it was time for my
swindling trustees to render the Brat's estate and
mine into my keeping. So at the end of my third
year as a cowboy, after the beef round-up, I let the
senora suppose I had gone to the hills with my
traps, but spent every dollar on a passage by rail to
New York. I lived on crackers. From Philadel-
phia, I earned my passage as a stiff on a cattle boat
to Liverpool, thence tramped to Cardiff, and signed
on as deck hand with the Bilbao tramp. Spain I
crossed afoot, but at Madrid made myself known to
friends of my house, who lent me clothes, and ob-
tained my presentation to the Queen Regent. By
Her Majesty's aid, I recovered all that was left of
my stolen inheritance, a thousand dollars a year,
with some small arrears. Then it was diiHcult to get
THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 301
away, but my return to Montana was made in com-
fort. At Fort Benton, I opened bank-accounts for
my brother's share and my own, letting him know by
letter of his succession. Brat used to address me
by mail as Mr. Crucible.
So I put on the good old cowboy kit once more
saddled my horse and rode for Lonely Valley in the
first of the winter storms.
Under a low gray sky lay patches of autumn
snow on dun grass withered brown.
I looked up to the red sun setting above the snowy
clouded flanks of the Rocky Mountains, and Lonely
Valley opened at my feet where shadow- of evening
groped from hill to hill.
There had been a snow-storm all last night, a thaw
all day. Only a few streaks of snow lay on the turf-
roofed cabin. :he barn and stack, and the plowed
fire-guard. The door of the cabin creaked, swing-
ing on Its hinge straps, and in the yard a little wolf
sat watching that, afraid to venture nearer.
I found the stable empty, as well as the cabin
Shoved IP 1 comer by the cabin stove was Don Er-
nesto's cradle, which I had made of a soajvbox with
303 THE CHEERFUL BL ACKGUARD
tarrel stoves for ito rockew. That cradle was (cov-
ered with dust Out In the yard I found a tiny
grave-mound, and at its head a cross n ade of two
lathes bound with a bit of tope. Pinned to the head
of the cross there was an envelope scrawled with the
words, "My hart, 2i Sept. 1890."
When I sat down beside that cradle, I heard from
the sodden eaves outside the cabin a steady drip and
splash of water beating out the time. Great swing-
ing stors across the dial of night can measure all
eternity without a sound, but these drops of water,
thudding, splashing, insistent, peevishly beating
time, endlessly beating time, remorselessly, i.orribly
beating time, had driven a woman mad.
Yes, even when I crushed my ears with both
hands, still I could feel these splashes throbbing out
the time, measuring out the nunishment of time, re-
morseless, passionless discipline of time, allayi-^g
medicine of time, whereby the Great Physician cures
ailing, restive, quivering but eternal souls. For time
is only force, vibrant like sea-waves on a coast,
beating against the feet of the eternal. Why should
the woman, made for eternity, be so rebuked, so
maddened by mere time as to dash her fists against
the logs of the wall until they were stoined with
THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 303
MooA The pain of her bleeding fists had eased the
mind's revolving agony.
Unable to endure the feel of the room, I went out,
and on the sodden ground saw tracks, an hour old,
perhaps more. A horse, prosperous, fresh and well
•hod, had come by the trail from Canada. A man
with the chain spur straps worn only by the police
had walked across from the stable to the cabin, had
«een the dusty cradle, had visited the grave.
And how the woman would play up with such a
part as that I She would be discovered kneeling
beside the cradle— and make a fine pretense of find-
ing gum-sticks to kindle ihe stove. There would be
ostentatious concealment of bleeding hands under
her apron, the mourner's covered hands to be found,
to drive my comrade crazy, storming about the
Blackguard's villainy while he took charge of her
affairs, appointing himself a woman's champion.
Then she would prate about marriage oaths, and
put up arguments for him to contradict, excuses for
me which he would trample on, and hesitation pro-
voking him to use force, most violently tearing her
away— all his own fault, of course, and quite against
And then the supper, with Mistress Violet waiting
304 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
on the man, unable to touch a bite of food herself
except on the sly, while she was getting his coffee or
cooking another batch of her slapjacks.
While she did stage business, taking off the wed-
ding-ring to lay it on the dresser, her eyes would
devour the scarlet of his coat, the tan of his neck,
her ears would wait for the clink of a spur when
he moved, the ci^ak of his great belt. How women
undervalue what is given, and die for the things
denied them! When her time came, that woman
would stage-manage her own death, and neglect her
own funeral to carry on a flirtation with the devil.
Oh, yes, my lady was too desperate with grief
to pass another night within the haunted scene of
her calamities. She would be abducted at once be-
fore the man had time to change his mind. She
would interrupt her packing with floods of tears,
while she stowed her own goods and everything of
mine which might be saleable — my best riata, my
breaking curb, spare gun, and buffalo coat, even my
father's watch, and my mother's ring which I had
trusted to her especial care.
The man took her mare and the pack-horse out of
the pasture, and close by the house door he loaded
her baggage with a squaw hitch, unhandily, with
such a trampling about as would suflfice for a pack-
THR C'RDEAL BY TORTURE 305
train. The, ac r oss his I lunderings came her dainty
tracks out Iro.n rh. doorway to where he helped
her mount. And they two had ridden southward,
to camp on wet ground within five miles or so, where
I could see a faint, reflected hght against Skull Rock.
It is curious to remember how all my thoughts
were evil as long as I stayed in my cabin, or tracked
about the yard where the very air was fouled by a
taint of misery, of morbid brooding, of outrageous
wrong. Yet in the stable, where I passed that night,
my thoughts were innocent, my prayers went straight
up hke smoke on windless air, and I was comforted.
In quite the best of tempers, I woke up from my
sleep in the hay, bathed, breakfasted, brought in a
horse from pasture, saddled and rode out.
Where I had seen the glow from their supper
fire, my seiiora was in camp with her deliverer, be-
side the hollowed flank of old Skull Rock, which
towered three hundred feet above their bed place.
They were at breakfast, taken by surprise, with no
chance of catching their horses to escape.
It made me catch my breath to see the dear, fa-
miliar scarlet serge, the morning sun aflame on his
belt, as the man rose to face me: my friend. Red
Saunders-that Cockney sailor-tramp who, ever so
long ago, brought news of the Burrows girl in Win-
306 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
nipeg when he came to engage for the service. I
bore no malice toward him for rescuing a woman in
distress, no ill-will toward the senora for thinking
my long absence meant desertion. I took oflf my hat,
as one always must to a woman, dismounted, because
one does not ride on ground where people are en-
camped, then turned to my friend with outstretched
"Am I excused?" I asked.
But Red stood back with his hand to his holster.
"Violet," he said hoarsely, "get abaft thish yer
"Die first," she answered, with a laugh of defi-
ance, "it's you that's scairt, not me."
So they betrayed guilt I had not suspected.
I sat down cross-legged before their sage-brush
fire, and took a branch to light me a cigarette, while
they stood watching, ill at ease, afraid, the woman
making hysterical talk of the weather, the man judg-
ing distance to where the old Flukes mare grazed,
jangling her bronze bell.
"Sit down, compadre," said I to the man. "We've
got to talk this over. Won't you ask the senora to
take a seat? Oh, pray be seated. Believe me, I ad-
mire your good taste in selecting so lovely a woman
to run away with — ^your friend's wife, too."
THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 307
It is when the tone is soft that words come to an
Covering the woman with his body, Red fumbled
nis holster open.
"The service side-arms." said I, "are badly hung
and take too long to draw." and my Colt beckoned
nim gently to a seat.
The man's face was deathly now, beaded wiu,
"The senora will realize," said I, "that the wom-
an .s never to blame, whatever happens. When love
>s dead vows break of their own accord, ano lovers
part; the woman to seek such solace as she can find.
the man-believe me, an imperfect brute-to wish
her every kind of happiness. Is this understood ?"
Ere, cut that out!" said Saunders. "Ifs fight
I want, not talk!"
"Last night," said I, "yonder in Lonely Valley I
read the tracks, the sign, and wished-believe mel
that I might be a better husband. Yes, I put up my
httle sad prayer to that effect. I fear I bore you."
The senora was crying.
"This lady," said I, "was quite right in leaving
Saunders hurled turses at me. insulting, defiant
3o8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"Quite so," said I. "Quite so. As you remark,
there are three of us here, with only room for two.
Your gun is loaded? You should be sure of that.
The light is good, the distance— ten feet— quite am-
ple. If you get up and lean against the rock behind
you, it will steady the aim, for your hand is shaking,
Red. Braceyourself up, man. For the honor of the
force, don't furik now that you're caught."
The senora howled.
"The lady," said I, "was prepared for this, or she
would not have brought you here. She will oblige
us by dropping her handkerchief as a signal for us
Now Red was blind and deaf with passion,
screamii:g at me to stand up. But to reply to an evil
word '.vith another taunt is to clean off dirt with
"Alas," I said, "I'm timid. I prefer to sit, so I
won't tumble down. The senora is requested to
stand out of the line of fire." I watched her sway-
ing upon her feet, rocking as though she would fall,
as she stared at me, horror-struck.
"As the senora wishes," I said, "to take no part
in this little disagreement, you, Mr. Saunders, will
count three slowly, firing at the word, 'Three.' "
Red braced straight upright, silent, and as I looked
THE ORDEAL BY TORTURE 309
up his gun sights into his eyes, I knew that the kick
ofthe gun would throw the shot clear above me.
Onel he gasped. "Two !" and with a scream, the
woman flung herself into his arms, guarding him
will, her body, destroying his aim.
I shouted, "Don't fire I" and lowered my gun
"You bleedin' curl" Red yelled. "I'm goin' to
k.Il you! And he wrestled with the woman to
throw her clear.
I Jumped to my feet, and showed Red my Colt
spmmng the empty cylinder. "Not loaded. Red'
You see.' I didn't expect a fight."
I sheathed my Colt, then snatched Red's Enfield
This one. you see, is loaded," and I spilled the cart-
ndges. then battered his gun against the rock until
the trigger smashed.
"You didn't understand me," I explained. "You
betrayed your friend, you betrayed this unhappy
woman in her trouble. How should you under-
stand? I am fastidious, and do not grant to curs
the honor of engaging me. There, you may have
your gun. Catch!"
I walked to my horse and mounted. "You may
understand," I said, 'that this ladv was my wife
but It seemed that love was buried, with a little cross
on the grave. So the Senora la Mancha was free
310 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
But I was not free. She might have intended only
a brief absence on business of her own, or perhaps
a holiday. She might have been taken by force or
lured away by fraud. She might still care for me,
and she might return.
"I came here to get proof, to find out for certain
which of us two she loves. It was into your arms,
not mine, she threw herself. Is it not proved ? The
honor.of guarding this lady is yours, not mine."
Then Red's eyes fell before mine, and he under-
"Seiiora," I lifted my hat, and bowed to her for
the last time on earth. "When Beauty murdered her
sister Chastity, she was turned into a vulture.
"You may remember that Joe Chambers died for
you, and Sarde lost his career, and I was ruined, as
this poor man will be ruined, and others after him.
"You are too wondrous fair to be all one man's
own, but God aids her who changes, as you will
"So I commend you — ^may you ride with God.
Swinging my horse, I spurred homeward, and
once again was young.
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA
r\VR souls are like the musical instruments.
V^ which do not emit their melody unless they
are beaten, plucked, blown or scraped.
And on this text, I pray you hear my sermon.
The European has goods to add up, neighbors
from whom he subtracts, estates to multiply, and
fortune to divide. For this arithmetic he needs ma-
chinery of the brain which widens out the forehead
To him are given all knowledge, glory, pride, mag-
nificence. the dominion of the earth, the mastery of
the sea. the command of the air.
But from the red Indian who hath not, and whose
forehead is pinched for lack of exercise, all things
are taken away.
And yet it is my comfort to remember that ances-
tors of mine, who conquered the new world, mar-
ned with Indian women. From that blood in my
veins I have the pinched forehead of an Indian, the
313 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
happy poverty, the shiftless lassitude, which mocks
at the laboring white man.
Do you suppose the Indian venerates a religion
worn on Sundays only ?
Do you imagine he respects the laws — a spider's
web to catch the flies and let the hawk go free?
The white man's only ambition is to have; his
years are spent in a fussy aimless selfishness, for
which he forsakes the dignity of manhood, and be-
ing too busy, he has no time to live.
The Indian's holy ideal is to be, to learn from na-
ture the upward way toward God.
The Indian sees the white man self-made, self-
conscious, self-centered, self -sufficient, self-opinion-
ated—all and entirely self. For this poor prisoner
within the bars of self the windows of the soul have
all been darkened, so that he can not see, or hear,
or scent, or taste, or feel the world he lives in, Heav-
en's fairest province. Blinded and deafened, dulled,
a groping creature, he is a specter haunting Para-
dise, waiting for death to reveal the glories which
life has oflered.
Just at the last, before I said "Adios" to the
world, I saw a little of the United States, something
of England, and of my native Spain. I saw Spain,
the land of the past, England, the land of the pres-
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 313
ent, America, che land of the future. In America,
I witnessed the rise of nations, in England, the poise
at the zenith, in Spain, the fall. It was like a coast,
the very coast of time, with the rushing onset, the
tumultuous crash, and piteous dragging ebb of ris-
ing, breaking, dying empires. They come, they
have, they fall, passing away, and are not.
From all that I rode away, leaving the storm of
nations to rage and break on pitiless coasts of time.
"Leave all that you have, and rise, and follow
Having is only a shadow which flies away at sun-
Do you remember that our Lord was forty days
away in the . pirit teaching souls in prison ? He may
not have mentioned His Jewish name to them. They
may have called Him Love, for that is the real name
of the Only Son.
And if He came again, do you think it would be
to the stupendous temples, which the white men need
as trumpets to make their prayers heard above the
deafening clamor of the cities? Would not the In-
dians be swifter to give Him welcome?
The world-storm died away in the far distance.
Give me the weal of being, which is no shadow
flyiiig away at sunset, for when my sun goes dcvn, I
314 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
■hall pass into star-dad night, to be immortal in
The homestead in Lonely Valley belonged to the
lefiora, not to me. For any larger career than that
of pioneer farmer my penmanship was childish, my
spelling gaudy,' while as to sums, well — if I added
two and two, it made one blot, which I had to wipe
up with my tongue. And as to being a threadbare
marquis in old Spain, I think I am still too much
alive for that.
Very high and pompous with my dreams, I put
on my buckskin war-dress as Charging Buffalo, the
Piegan Chief, loaded a couple of pack-ponies and
set out from Lonely Valley riding my lop-eared,
wall-eyed pinto cow-horse. That night in camp, I
'boiled a tea of herbs, wnich gave me the Indian
Next day, a pack-horse had my saddle in his load,
for I was riding once again bareback, as Indians
ride, rejoicing in the natural and perfect savage
grace of a horsemanship whose rhythm is like the
easy flight of birds. The half-forgotten language
came back phrase by phrase, until I could think in
Blackfoot as a poet might think in verse. The In-
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 315
dian life was coming back to me, the hardy, re-
sourceful, abstemious habit of the war trails. Mount
Rising Wolf lifted his head above the northern sky-
line, and on the fourth evening, I trailed across the
meadows beside Two Medicine Lake where once—
The mile-wide ring of the tribal camp was gone
like any snowdrift, empty was the field where I had
killed Tail-Feathers in the ordeal of battle. Now, as
then, the low sun filled the valley with a dust of gold,
and out of that my enemy had come in a whirling
cloud. Standing behind my horse I had sighted—
waiting — and clenched my hand on the gun as that
thundering charge swept home. There his horse
leap«d and crashed to the ground in death. Here, the
man's smashing fall, and he lay, twitching horribly—
Otit of the golden haze came a cluster of mounted
people, men and women, not the fierce warriors,
Blackfeet of six years ago, but the poor blanket In-
dians of the reservation, cowed broken paupers on
their way to draw their weekly rations at the agency.
And these, as in a dream, saw the red sunlight
kindle a buckskin war-shirt, the blithe wind stream-
ing with a warrior's eagle plumes, a chief out of
their great past, riding down from Dreamland.
Men sighed and women whimpered as they saw
3i6 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
But now the warrior from Dreamland reined his
horse, dismounted, took cover, and with a little glit-
tering revolver —
Then they remembered! At this very place had
Charging Buffalo killed the champion rifle-shot of
the Black foot nation, and saved Rain the sacred
woman from being murdered I
At their shout of welcome I swung astride my
horse to give them the signs of peace, of greeting.
Then, from their midst, bidding them halt, a
woman rode forward alone, dropping the blanket
from her shoulders, tidying her hair with little pats
and strokes, greeting me in her shy sweet English,
and with mocking, derisive eyes.
"So," she said, "you come !"
"My dream — he say you come."
"Yes," she chuckled, "um — Boy-drunk-in-the-
"Nay. Charging Buflfalo!"
"How many horses you bring to buy Rain ?"
Squinting delightfully in his efforts at Indian
gravity came Rain's big brother. Many Horses, am-
bling beside me to reach out a bashful hand.
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 3,7
"Brother." he said, in Blackfoot, "1 knew you
must come back."
Now my Indian blood-brother had no ideas of his
own, but his mind was like a lending library to take
and issue the ideas of others. And what Rain
thought, he said. So she had known for all these
years I would come back to her.
It went without any saying that I came back to
marry Rain. All her people knew as much, for
when they had given me their gracious welcome,
they went on, as they must, to draw their rations,
telling Many Horses to hurry up and join them.
Not that a hint could penetrate his hide. But, then,
there was no need for Rain and myself to be alone,
for she and I were one, and nobody else existed as
we rode side by side through a haze of glory. Out
of that, we came to a little cluster of teepees by the
Rain's only son, young Two Bears, had gone
away to the Sand Hills, but her brother had a bunch
of brown babies— three of them in his lodge— who
were trying with grubby hands to mend her heart
Rain was a very great lady among the Blackfeet,
daughter of Brings-down-the-Sun, widow of Tail-
Feathers, and a sacred woman, but in her brother's
3i8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
lodge only a nurse, the down-trodden victim of that
triumphant sits-beside-him wife, Owl-Calling-"Com-
ing," mother of real brown babies. Children were
scarce as angels in the Blackfoot camps, and Owl
had full right to make merry.
All in a bustle, she prepared a feast for me. There
was pathetic borrowing from the neighbors to make
that slender sdpper, at which we all pretended to
have no appetite. Only when it was over could I
unload my horses, and for once in my life play at
being millionaire. I had never dreamed I was so
fabulously rich, but there were presents for every-
body hidden away in my cargo, besides provisions
enough for a great banquet, which kept the tribe
feasting till sunrise.
The gods of the Blackfeet had deserted them.
Within a generation their forty thousand mounted
warriors had become a remnant of five hundred
paupers, sick with tuberculosis, brutalized with
liquor. They had lost their faith, their self-respect,
their native cleanliness, their arts, games, festivals,
and now, in sullen apathy, awaited death.
Yet in one camp at least the dying fires flickered
up at my coming. Old Medicine Robe called his
priests and sacred women to the sweet and solemn
ritual, with which I was formally adopted as a
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 319
Blackfoot, as a chief and as his son. The young
men roused themselves for a hunting and killed
deer, so that the women might dress the skins, and
make clothes for Rain and for me. The poles were
cut, the cover sewn for my lodge, in which I had
to sit in lonely state while Rain attended me with
meals, which she brought from her hearth. The
lodge was furnished for me with robes, blankets,
panther skins, back-rests and parfleche trunks.
Then I must take my ponies and tie them at the
lodge door of my brother. Many Horses. But Many
Horses, not to be outdone, tethered every pony he
had left at the door of my new teepee. That was
And lastly, the wedding moccasins were made,
beautifully embroidered with porcupine quills, dyed
in wild herbs. These, with a fine dinner, were
brought to my lodge by Rain and Owl. But Owl
stayed outside, while Rain came in, and by that
happy action became my woman.
I kneel at my table here, to pay my reverent trib-
ute to this adorable woman, and her commanding
loveliness. Rain was a lady to her finger-tips, and
in any society would have had the men at her feet.
Shy, dainty, with a quaint delicate humor al! her
own, she mothered and owned me with perfect tact
320 THE CHEERFXJL BLACKGUARD '
and rare intelligence, for the woman who obeys her
husband rules him. If my lady had faults, I loved
her for them. And where every dog, baby and kit-
ten saw her excellence, how could I be blind?
It was my right and privilege to serve my lady,
but her heart was like a sanctuary too holy for me
to enter. To her came men in trouble, confessing
their sins; and' all their secrets, with many of her
own, she kept to herself. She told me only what it
was good for me to know, and if she told me secrets,
I can keep them. I have nothing else to keep.
For seven years I was not the Blackguard at all,
but something quite different, so the chronicle of
that time hardly belongs to this writing. And yet
writing is a sixth sense for the absent, a consolation
for those who are alone, for those who are lonely.
By all the codes, the sanctions of conduct and
standards of judgment which make the world's
opinion, I was the husband of a prostitute and kept
a squaw for mistress.
But by the pity of Christ, I had tried to save a
falling soul from ruin before I married an honor-
Our codes, our sanction, standards, opinions,
views, like our bilious attacks, our selfishness and
our debts, are matters demanding attention without
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 321
adding to our welfare. Will you accept my opin-
ions as a gift ? Shall I adopt your views ?
These are infirmities of the mind or body which
we can not sell or give away or thrust upon our
neighbors. Our bodies are fouled by the world, our
minds are fogged until the blazing truth of God
bums our impurities. It is conceivable that from
such a world as ours only as pariahs can we advance
in manhood, in moral worth, in spiritual growth. I
have climbed mountains from whose summits all the
ways of the world looked small as spider-threads,
leading to nowhere in particular ; and if we descried
from the heavens these beaten paths of men, they
would not seem, I think, to be the only trails through
Since public opinion hanged the Saviour of man-
kind, it seems to need a guide.
The fox who had lost his tail attempted to set a
fashion in docked foxes.
So I, who could not ask for rations as an Indian,
persuaded my friends to have no further dealings
with the white man. His agent was a thief, his
missionary, schoolmaster and farm instructor were
322 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
a pack of fools, his regulations were fences to be
jumped, his rations poison to their self-respect, his
clothes were sinful forms of ugliness, his stuffy
buildings killed them with consumption, his man-
ners and customs ruined Indian women.
Our head chief gave me leave to form a band of
hunters and trappers, men, women and children
sworn to earn their living, and avoid the whites, to
eat wild meat, to wear skin clothes, and be real In-
dians, not imitation whites.
And so we took to the woods.
Through our separation. Rain had played the
woman, but from the time of our marriage was a
child again, for life was one long game at which
she played with happy gravity. When I confessed
my trouble in keeping clear of Sarde, my enemy,
because I wanted always to take his life. Rain went
to work playing at magic, with all the simple earnest-
ness she gave to cooking eggs. To her mind eggs,
casting out devils and making poultices were parts
of housekeeping, and she must have my soul cleaned
or my socks patched, because she insisted on a t'Ay
husband. She banished Sarde from my thoughts,
she exorcised Red Saunders. She made me pray to
the fairy animals, and threatened to sacrifice all my
hair to the sun unless I behaved myself and spoke
THE SOUL OF I.A MANCHA 323
respectfully about my mother-in-law. This mother-
in-law, if you please, was the beaver woman spirit
who helped Rain in her dreams. It was not etiquette
that I should meet the lady.
Among the Blackfeet. as with the whites and
other barbarians, the women rule all they love. It
was part of Rain's game, to rule our wandering tribe,
so we poor tribes-folk obeyed her when we had to.
Her religion forbade us to eat fish or ground
game, but we needed a few sins just to keep us in
practise, so when she had duly forbidden unholy
food, she used to do the cooking. Her faith de-
nied" us the shooting of wolves because they were
hunting comrades, but I must own that the govern-
ment bounty on their scalps appealed to me more
powerfully than relig-on— and then she gave my
earnings to the poor.
In the matter of bears, however, Rain's piety was
She would not let me mention any bear except in
terms of compliment, as "The gentleman with the
fur coat," or "The Inspector General of Berries."
Once, when I used the words, "Damned Greedy
Brute," a grizzly overheard me, and ate our camp
that night. "I told you so," said Rain.
As to shooting a grizzly: "He is always an-
324 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
noyed," quoth Rain. "And sometimes more so." I
shot that robber, all the same, and my wife needs
hang up her best frock as a sacrifice to the sun before
she dared touch the skin. She moistened its brain
with her tears while she dressed the pelt, and when
the work was finished refused to sleep in the lodg^
with it for company. Indeed, she made such a fuss
that I gave up hunting bears and they could cock
snooks at me whenever we happened to meet. The
fact is. Rain tamed me until I had not so much as a
vice to call my own.
They do say that when the lion is dead, even the
very hares will pull its mane.
We had our little troubles. There was, for ex-
ample, a good deal of starving to do. But God is
omnipotent : and money is His lieutenant My pay
for being a marquis, five hundred dollars a year,
went a long way toward putting off inevitable fam-
ines. Each year, too, we brought our pelts to the
traders, who were surprised at the prices they had
to pay in guns and ammunition, traps, tobacco and
comforts. They said I was aptly named as Charging
Under our chief's direction, we turned weavers,
making our scratchy blankets of mountain goat hair.
They fetched a deal of money ; but with the pottery
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 325
we were not successful. My Indian brother, Many
Horses, had only to give one squint, and our best
pots fell all to pieces.
Sometimes in spring we would plant com, pump-
kins and tobacco, and if we happened to pass that
way in the fall, would gather such a crop as the
wild things had spared to us. Great were our har-
vests, too, of camass and wild fruit dried and stored
up for winter. If ever we happened to kill a mave-
rick cow, we tanned the skin, dried the meat and
buried the bones, leaving no trace of our crime
against the white men's buffalo. Very particular,
too, was Rain with our young men, forbidding them
to steal chickens or even to scalp settlers.
That was not, she said, the way to ignore the
white men. So, barring the needs of trade, we left
them severely alone, and played at ghosts on our
moonlight flittings through any outlying settlements.
Sometimes we rescued loSt and starving travelers,
who would spread the news of an unknown Indian
tribe at large in the wilderness. Once, an official
came to herd us back to our reservation, but unfor-
tunately his interpreter could not speak our language
and, as none of us understood a single word of Eng-
lish, we could not make out what was the matter
with him. We fed this person and his interpreter.
326 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
we gave them tobacco, we tucked them up in bed
and sang a lullaby; but when they fell asleep, we
broke our camp and vanished, leaving no tracks on
land because we went by water, a long night's march
along a river bed. The white men reported us
drowned, but Rain explained to me that this was
We wandyed along the ranges wherever we
fotmd food, southward to Mexico and northward
into the Alps of St. Elias, wintering in alpine pas-
tures, traveling in summer throu|^ the upper for-
ests and the nether deserts. But where we went
during those happy years, I have not the slightest
notion, for, after all, heart's ease and life's delight
are poor geographers. We were not careful of
maps, considerate of the way, or very much con-
cerned as to our destination.
Once we were in a valley of the Canadian Rockies,
a gorge so fouled with deadfall, with beaver swamps
and snow-slides, that, high as the water ran, we were
forced to seek our passage along the river bed. Then
came a cut bank strewn with fallen trees, which
reached out into the middle of the current. At that,
the rock floor on which our horses waded came to
an end, and down we went into deep water, com-
pelled to swim across to the farther bank. The
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 327
ponies rolled in the swell of that white-manned rapid
like boats in a storm at sea. I turned and saw Rain
laughing. Then my horse went under altogether,
rolling over three times without touching bottom,
and both of us were very nearly drowned.
Afterward, I asked my wife if she had been
"When I saw my big baby," she said, "getting its
inside wet, I told my secret helper to swim quick.
And the woman-beaver dived."
"So you were frightened ?"
"If you died. Big Baby, you'd have to come back
to me to be comforted. And when I die I shall look
after you. And when we're both dead, we shall ride
the Wolf Trail together, because you are me and I
am you for always. Nothing else matters, and there
isn't anything left to frighten us."
Rain would be teaching me quaint dances, or set-
ting our household in a roar with imitations of my
face as I played the flute. She mocked, flouted,
caressed all in a breath, and chaffed me with make-
believe flirtations, pretending to fall in love with
Left Hand or Bearpaw, our young warriors. Yet
while she crooned and twittered over her household
work, for all the world like some fussy bird at nest-
ing time, I began, vaguely at first, then with a grow-
338 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
ing sureness, to feel that the play was forced, that
my fairy woman was in pain, trying to hide some
illness which sapped her strength. Then once, by
accident, I saw, when she thought herself to be alone,
agony in the poise of her body, desperate fear in
That summer, a certain attentiveness of the trad-
ers, a disposition to ask needless questions, gave us
a sense of being watched by the authorities. Trav-
eling with horses, and leaving tracks, we were lia-
ble to be followed and interfered with. For that
reason, we built birch-bark canoes which, swimming
upside down as a rule, gave us more bathing than
we really needed. At least, we left no tracks.
Our river, without disclosing its name, went bub-
bling affably, capsizing us at rapids through hun-
dreds of miles of alpine wonderland, northward at
first, then west, then southward — in black jiLie jun-
gles now, which yielded us no food. Beyond that,
the river took to evil courses, plunging as one long
riffle, br : en by cascades into an ever deepening
abyss whose walls were mountains. Our web-foot
tribe — for so Rain called us — ^began to be afraid.
From our next camp, I climbed a hill to see what
became of the river; and on my return found a
white man seated beside Rain's fire. He was a great
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 329
gaunt frontiersnuui, whose mouth had been large
for a dog, and in his eyes the smile of heaven's own
sunlight. Owl's two little girls were climbing all
over him, the dogs were adoring him, and Rain had
given him the very last of our coffee.
At shrewd sight, this visitor addressed me in Eng-
lish, with a soft Texan drawl.
"How much do you want for the bunch of
"More than you've got," said L
"I aim to cheapen them babies — or get them
"They'll ne«d 'em."*
"You mean, there's bad water down yonder ?"
"Yes, sir. Bad for brown babies. Thar's thou-
sands of millions in Heaven, but they're scarce to be
spared down heah, so I'll trade for this lot rather
than see 'em wasted."
"Where does the river go?"
"To Heavea Jest keep right on. You cayn't
"Is the canyon long?"
"Ef the first mile ain't enougL, thar's two hun-
"We're looking for the sea."
330 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"So'i Fraser River."
"I wouldn't call a man plumb lost who'd eyes like
your'n, so maybe the country hereaways has gawn
"Or perhaps our planet ha* wandered out of the
"Out of which way?"
"Say. I like you a whole lot. My name's Smith,
'cept that my friends call me Jesse, Sailor Jesse."
"My name is— call me Squaw-man."
"Put her thar," said Jesse.
I have been easy of acquaintance, but of my few
friendships that with Sailor Jesse of Caribou was
perhaps most intimate.
We sat together on the river bank under the
golden mountains, where groves of yellow pines, like
throngs of angels, swayed to the organ peal of a
triumphant wind. We watched the brave river go
merrily to her drowning. So merrily went my wife,
full conscious of great death.
I told Jesse about that red imp of pain, which
danced and glowed like fire within her shoulder. To
consult a doctor, I must risk a visit to settlements,
where the authorities would arrest my tribe, herd-
t THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 331
ing them to imprisonment on their reservttion. And
that involved my own fate aa a deserter from the
mounted police, accused of bigamy with Sarde's
Most wonderfully my friend's words flattened the
rough difficulties, made my journey short and eased
the way. On the coast, he told me, Indians went
free and unquestioned like the white men. Food
was abundant both by land and water. He would
show me where I could make a base camp for my
tribe within one day's journey of a cottage hospital.
So Jesse led us by a portage across the coast
range, and through the abysmal chasm of Bute In-
let to a cove in Valdez Island. There the Douglas
pines towered three hundred feet into the sunshine,
and through their cathedral aisles ranged herds of
elk. Sheer from the feet of the trees went the fa-
thomless blue of a deep channel, and, far beneath,
the waving swaying groves of a seaweed forest
faded away into the nether darkness.
My wife would not allow me to take her to the
cottage hospital, lest seeing her untidiness in blood
and pain, I cease to love. "If lesse sees me," she
said, "it doesn't matter, and if I die it will be so
easy to find this camp. I shall think of your wait-
ing, guarded by spirit trees."
332 THE, CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
She went with Jesse, trusting him, and contented,
and when my friend returned alone, on his way
homeward, all the news looked good. There had
been an operation for cancer, but Rain was doing
well, and would be ready to leave the hospital in a
month. For Jesse, a month had thirty days or so,
but for me it numbered thirty years. I set my tribe
to work praying by watch and watch for Rain's
recovery, then fearing senile decay if I remained, I
prepared a one-man outfit with thirty days' provi-
sions, and set off in my loaded canoe to be near my
wife at Comox.
Although I doubt if God believes in churches, the
Catholic faith in which I had been reared provides
good medicine. So I made confession to a priest,
and having received his medicine, which was good,
secured his help as an interpreter. He arranged with
the hospital that I should have news of my wife, and
he wired for me to Staff-Sergeant BucHie, N. W. M.
P., bidding my friend come because I was in trouble.
When Buckie answered that he had applied for fur-
lough, I was content at my camp outside the village
with fasting and prayer and the daily bulletins. My
hair changed from black to silver-gray, dear proof
that God's hand was upon me. And then, one mom-
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 333
ing, as I came up from bathing, I found Rain wait-
ing, seated by the fire.
There had been a shower, but now, as the sun-
shine swept great fields of color across the Gulf of
Georgia at our feet, God's birds, like little angels,
rocked the woods with song.
My wife sat by the embers putting on little twigs.
"Your fire," she whispered to me, "was almost out."
Yes, almost dead. Of late, it had been hard to
keep the fire alive.
Faith is like that. One hardly sees it while the
sun is shining, but it glows bravely in the night, a
comfort in the darkness, a mercy in times of hun-
ger, pain or loneliness. The world-thought comes
like rain to damp the fires of faith, which feed on
winds of trouble, blow high on gales of persecution,
set the whole world alight just when our need is
"See," said my wife, "the little flames have come.
We'll make a fine blaze now."
So a good woman makes our faith bum strongly.
"There's no smoke now," she said.
Prayer is the smoke which comes from the fire of
faith, and when the air is calm it goes straight up.
Mine had been blown about during the time of wait-
334 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
ing, but now my faith blazed clear in great thanks-
A few days later, when Rain was quite recovered
and fixed in camp again, a telegram from Buckie
told me to expect him. So I went to the railroad
station and watched the day's train arrive.
I was looking for a non-commissioned officer of
mounted police, whose gold and scarlet made him
the most brilliantly conspicuous personage in North
Buckie was looking for some sort of cowboy.
So it happened that a well-dressed civilian in
tweeds, with a portmanteau, a rod and a shotgtm,
came along the platform, and was hailed in stage
whispers by an Indian loafer. "Oh, Buckie, how
could you? Trousers turned down — umbrella rolled
up— what awful side !"
"Liar I" he answered. "I wouldn't be seen dead
with an umbrella."
"Oh, what a dog! wouldn't be seen dead with an
umbrella! Don't let the crowd see us together. Fol-
low where I lead. Drown your false teeth, Buckie,
change clothes, take a bath— and God won't know
Outside the village, I let him walk beside me.
"But," he gasped, "you're an Indian!"
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 33S
"Aye, Buckie. The troop jester is dead. Wasn't
he killed nine years ago by the fall of a horse in
"He's dead, too."
A comedian's fun is the echo of pain, the motley
worn by sorrow. But when sorrow and pain have
fled away, you miss them, for we only know the
light because it casts a shadow.
"How you've ichanged!" sighed Buckie.
Once upon a time there was an inventive fish,
who discovered water.
Some day, perhaps, an inventive man may dis-
(K)ver love, the atmosphere our souls breathe. And
other men will tell him, "How you've changed!"
When we had gained the secrecy of the woods,
and Buckie put down his load to sit on a wayside
log among the fern, he told me wonderful gossip.
My telegram had found him acting regimental
sergeant-major at headquarters, and when he applied
for a furlough on urgent private affairs, the com-
missioner gave him a parchment signed and sealed by
the viceroy. Her Majesty's commission. He was In-
spector Buckie posted to his old Troop D at Fort
French, by special request of Sam, the officer com-
manding. The senior inspector there was Mr. Sarde.
336 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
The orderly-room clerk was Staff-Sergeant la Man-
cha, my Brat. The rest of the fellows were new,
and total strangers. Nine years. Of course.
"Your wife — " he asked.
"Oh, yes." I remembered. "How's my seflora ?"
"Can you prove that?"
With all his old, quaint official delight in docu-
ments, Buckie showed me a letter from the sheriff
at Helena. It seemed that the seiiora had become
a woman of the town, and died quite naturally of
drink. Only the sudden flight of her kept man,
Red Saunders, had given rise to a certain amount
of suspicion, perhaps ill-founded. At least, the
senora's death had set me free.
So far, Buckie knew nothing of my alliance un-
der the Indian law with my dear lady, and when
we came to her camp, he was shocked to his official
soul at being presented. Yet during the long years,
he had learned to speak Blackfoot with a strong
Canadian accent, and shy as my lady always was
of strangers, she seemed to like my friend. After
all, the chap was a gentleman, delicately tactful,
reverencing women, and presently surrendered to
her charm. Moreover, the pain and danger of her
illness had partly unsheathed the sweet and radiant
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 337
spirit of the sacred woman, so that her beauty had
taken on an unearthly glamour. To that, my friend
After dinner, I told Rain of my new freedom, and
begged her to accept the white men's rite of mar-
riage. To her, that observance seemed a very tri-
vial matter, and quite ridiculous was the rank it
would give to my consort as Marchioness of the
Alpuxarras. And yet, as we hoped for children, she
consented to legalize our marriage, and that after-
noon we waited upon the priest to whom I had
So far, my lady had been amused, but when Buck-
ie unpacked his baggage, he gave her a wedding
present, an old Spanish poignard, its Toledo blade
mounted in ivory and tarnished silver. I thought
the toy a most unlucky gift, but to Rain it was
a perfect revelation, the first entirely useless thing
she had ever owned, a possession for pleasure only,
and therefore priceless. We spent the rest of our
wedding-day hunting the village stores for objects
of perfect uselessness.
It was mid-afternoon next day before my lady,
Buckie and I left, our canoe loaded to the gunwale
with treasures. Till dusk, we paddled gently along
shore, then on to midnight in glassy starlit waters.
3a8 THE CHEERFUL Bi^CKGUARD
An hour's nap refreshed us for a pull againsi the
tide, then dawn broke above the splintered ice of
the coast range, day kindled the Vancouver Alps
until they glowed like flame, and the sun melted the
hills into the cloudy air. Then mighty whirlpools
spun our canoe like a top between a tide of eleven
knots and a backwater running eight. Dark forest
closed in on either side of the tide-race, and we
spurted across the back-sluice into our tiny bay.
A bevy of children were skirting like gulls as we
landed, a cluster of laughing women hauled the
canoe aground. We were hailed by our one-legged
Japanese cook, our three-legged dog, our lame wild
goose, an old blind siwash crone, and all the mixed
assemblage of our tribal pets. Many Horses, Owl-
calUng-"Coming" and their young son. Bears, Left
Hand and Bear Paw, the hunters, two darling old
scare-crows, who called themselves my wives be-
cause they were Rain's attendants; yes, the whole
Black foot tribe came down to greet our chief and
make her welcome home out of the Valley of Death.
Then all together we attended Rain through the
dim naves of that stupendous forest, until we came
to a fire of cedar-wood, with its blue film of in-
cense. There the clamor ceased, while our chief,
as priestess, burned sweet grass upon the altar fire.
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 339
and o£Fered thanks for her recovery. Then came
hymns and sacred dances, prayer and reading of
the Bible in our own Blackfoot language. Buckie
went fast asleep standing, and Bears gave an imita-
tion of that performance, which broke up our ser-
vice into roars of laughter.
During the weeks of his furlough, Buckie, with
grave enjoyment, shared our hunting in the forest,
our fishing by torchlight in channels phosphores-
cent as liquid starlight, the bathing, the feasts, the
dances, the matins at the dawn, the evensong at
dusk. But most of all, he liked to sit with me
within the portico of our forest temple, whence one
looked out between colossal pine trunks to the sea
channel, the far white Alps and the great pageantry
forever marching across the summer sky. The hum-
ming-birds, the bees, the woodland perfume, sun-
beams athwart vast shadows and the strong music
of the winds and seas, made that place sacred in
At times we were driven into our teepees by riots
of the weather, when the women dressed skins and
made clothing, while Many Horses kept an eye on
the fire, and his other eye on the children.
But into that great peace there came foreboding.
Budcie and I knew well that cancer is incurable, that
340 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
soon or late the inevitable pain would warn my
wife of death which science could only delay, which
prayer could only ease, and which no power on earth
could possibly avert She seemed to sense death, and
at times would jest with Buckie, telling him that he
must take her to the plains, or muttering in her
sleep she would speak of the Blackfoot camps, or
during matins would pray looking toward the East.
She wanted ^o go home, and I must take her back.
God would preserve me from my enemies.
I think it was in that camp I first began to notice
how often the dogs howled, as they do when they
sense ghosts. I have seen Rain frequently stop on
her way through camp to speak to her father, to her
mother or to friends long dead. She saw them
plainly, she said, and spoke to them familiarly, as
we do to living people, without the slightest sense
of fear. And her own spirit-power seemed daily
to gain in strength. It was her custom to make
magic for our amusement. On the last evening
of Buckie's visit, a steady drizzle had driven us to
make our fire inside the teepee, and half the tribe had
gathered ior a feast of berries. Then the children
asked Rain to call Wind-maker.
"Come, Wind-maker," she whispered into the
THE SOUL OF LA MANCHA 341
hearth-smoke, and as she threw some sweet grass
into the fire, we heard a sigh in the air far off.
Bears gathered the younger children about him,
snuggling for protection, and all their eyes glow-
ed in the firelight, as though they were a wolf-
pack besetting our winter camp in the Moon of
Famine. "Wind-maker hears!" they whispered.
"Wind-maker comes 1 Oh, Rain, don't let him come
too near us!" ,
For answer, we heard a distant muttering of
A gust shook the rain-drops out of the trees
above us, a seething of fine rain swept along the
tent wall, and sudden little breakers lashing on the
beach sent us a splash of spray. The smoke hole
let in a swirling down-draft filling the lodge
with smoke, while the wind sighed through the tim-
ber like hands upon a harp. Then the deep storm
notes volleyed, thundered with blaze after blaze of
lightning, crash upon rending crash, and wailing
flute-notes lifted to a hurricane-screaming blast,
thrashing three-hundred-foot timber like a whip-
ping reed-bed, rocking the teepee until the children
skirled and the women huddled together in their
fright. I saw Many Horses revealed in a livid
34a THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
blaxe of lightning, his iron hard face let rigid, hit
teeth clenched, his crossed eyes glittering as though
he rode into battle.
His son. Bears, was standing exultant, shouting
with triumph. And aU about my wife arose a mut
of human spirite and vague animals, while the rain
roared, the cyclone yelled, the thunder crashed and
volleyed. Then my wife's hands swept slowly down-
ward, while ih obedience, the hurricane roUed away,
and the rain eased and steadied, until a last throbbing
of thunder like ruffled drums muttered among the
echoes of the coast range.
Our lives are such Ulusions as that Our lives are
God's dreams in which we drive, like storm-swept
ships, upcm a sea of terror. We suffer and go to
wreck, supposing our tragic miseries all real, while
God is dreaming the world-storm in which He trains
INSPECTOR Buckie's narbativk
I AM the Inspector Buckie mentioned in the fore-
going text, and to me is entrusted the editing and
completion of this biography. I feel that in this con-
ventional world so very unconventional a man as
Don Josi needed a friend in his biographer. A
hostUe witness, for example, might bias the gentiest
reader by setting forth bare facts of bigamy and
homicide which, taken without their context, would
seem offensive and unpardonable. So facts nay
be told as lies.
To strangers, my friend may have seemed an in-
credibly complex personality. One saw him by
turns as the grave courtly Hidalgo of old Spain, as
the roUicking Irish trooper, as the red Indian sai .t.
and at the end as a very dangerous outlaw. Yet
these were only the moods of a sincere and simple
gentleman, unusual only in his terrific strength of
character, which lacked the guidance ,of strong in-
344 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
I who was his comrade saw, in my dim official
way, only the humdrum duties of the police, and the
squalor of Indian decadence. But here in his mem-
oirs, I realize for the first time the breadth and
splendor of the regimental service, the spirituality
of the Indian character, and the tremendous majesty
of our wilderness. Don Jos6 had eyes to see that
we were living an epic life in the homeric age of
Canada. While I went blind, he saw with heroic
So having tamed his spelling, cleared his gram-
mar, and composed his chaotic chapters into narra-
tive, I leave my humble task as editor, to take up
the duties of biographer.
From his camp on Valdez, La Mancha took me
back by canoe to Comox, the terminal of the Van-
couver Island Railroad. During this thirty-six-mile
passage, I found occasion to warn my friend
against an act of folly on which he had set his
heart However unselfish he might be in taking
Rain home to die among her people, he had no
business to risk a visit to the Canadian plains.
There, at any moment, he might be recognized
by people who had known him in times past, even
by Inspector Sarde or Red Saunders, his mortal
enemies. The sequel would be his arrest
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 34S
"Risk," said he, "is the only measure of value.
Unless I risk my money, my liberty or my life,
how can I feel my pleasure in such wealth?"
I told him 1 saw no gain it bo'ng such a damned
"Y01.1 should learn to f j'*cr n.; rh'liy. Kr\in and
I must go to the Piegan ■ .:- p. Yui, :;. e, n. chap,
the Wolf Trail starts /.o.n U «re, ^rl : ■.01. t want
my wife to take that Uail aluiie"
"You want to die with her?"
"If I may. At least, to see i.. - off on her way
to the Sand Hills."
"Where is that?" I asked, for I had heard of
the Sand Hills as the place of the Blackfoot dead.
"I don't know where," he answered, "but if you
think, you'll know that there must be a place of wait-
ing where those who rest are watching for those
"Are you sure," I asked him, "that we outlive
"It stands to reason, Buckie. Love is God. There-
fore, love is eternal. Therefore, the love in us is
our portion of the eternal. We are like lamps,
and love is the light we carry through the dark-
"But lamps go out."
346 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD-
"Some do, and some bum low, but Rain will carry
light enough to see by while she waits for me. Of
course, I must go as far as I can with her."
"Think of the risk."
I knew then that nothing could deter him.
"Is it nothing to you," he asked, "that you are
one of the lamps which light the universe?"
And so we ^rted.
In great content I reported to the superintendent
commanding for duty at Fort r .ench, and made the
best I could of Mr. Sarde as a brother officer with
whom I had little in common. The orderly-room
sergeant was my own friend. Brat la Mancha, now
well healed of his wound and free from lameness
«cept when he had to limp in winter moccasins.'
Narrowly he had escaped being invalided, and being
a cnpple, could never be allowed to take rough duty
but must content himself with office work. Thanks
to Jose, who yearly sent him half the income from
Spam, the Brat was passing rich, with a fine, pros-
perous and growing ranch of his own, to which h«
would retire when it pleased him to quit the force.
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 347
At the post we were agreed never to mention Jos6
even in whispers, lest the gossips begin to suspect
that we had a secret. Sam, Mr. Sarde and one or
two very old hands in the division, who had known
Don Jos6, believed him to be dead. Brat and I
were silent, except when we stole off together after
The well-oiled machinery of our routine found
more or less truthful chronicle in the year's report.
A mild winter was making way for an early spring
when, one morning, as orderly officer for the week,
I sat working with Brat la Mancha in the office.
There were papers to sign, applications for passes,
or sc ;ne such trifles. Through the window I could
see a man ride in, the sergeant in charge at Stand-
off, our outpost with the Blood tribe, of the Black-
foot confederation. Sergeant Millard seemed in a
hiirrj', and that was quite unusual, for in the many
years he had been father confessor to the Bloods,
the smooth perfection of his work made life monot-
onous. Now he spoke rapidly to the sergeant of
the guard, then with the sergeant-major, who show-
ed concern, and brought him direct to the office.
There must be events afoot, so, when they enter-
ed, I asked the sergeant-major to see if the super-
intendent commanding was at home.
348 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Millard saluted. "I thought it best to report in
person, sir,— a case of murder and suicide. Mr.
de Hamel is wounded."
"The Indian agent?"
"Yes, sir. Yesterday, that's Sunday the fifth in-
stant, Mr. de Hamel came over and dined at the de-
tachment. He mentioned a Piegan family which had
come in on Saturday from the Blackfoot reservation
in Montana. The Indian seemed a total stranger,
by all accounti well fixed, with a first-rate outfit,
three women, and a nephew aged about fourteea
They had no pass, but unless they asked for rations
Mr. de Hamel felt that no action was necessary.
The Indian and his nephew had gone off at day-
break, mounted. The three women remained in
"Names?" asked the Brat.
"I've got a memorandum here, sir, with names
"All right, Sergeant."
"Mr. de Hamel mentioned that the wife was Rain,
a well-known sacred woman. Her medicine was
said to be so strong that some of the people brought
presents, but she lay sick in the teepee, and the two
older women said she must not be disturbed."
Murder and suicide I I glanced at the Brat, whose
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 349
face was white as chalk, and envied him the writing
which kept him occupied through that long sus-
"You may remember, sir," said Millard, "and Ser-
geant la Mancha here must remember, Saunders,
Red Saunders, in the force."
"Yes. Go on." I wondered if my v(5ice was all
"Well, sir, there's been a red-haired hobo hang-
ing around, doing odd jobs, for some time past.
Called himself Redmond. Drunken waster, by all
accotmts. Mr. de Hamel mentioned that this man
was a deserter — Red Saunders."
"Did you arrest him?" I asked.
"I told De Hamel I would, sir."
Deserters are useless, and our fellows prefer not
to catch them.
"Well, sir, from later information, I find that
Redmond, alias Saunders, was seen by several wit-
nesses loafing around the neighborhood of that tee-
pee, until just before dark, when the old women
were away for fire-wood or water. Then he went
Brat coughed, and still, through all the years, I
hear that sound. His notes were a mere pretense.
Afterward I found he had been drawing little owls.
3SO THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"According to the boy, Bears, he went with his
unde, Charging Buffalo, to visit Many Horses, his
own father, camped at Bullhorn Coulee. On their
return at dusk. Charging Buffalo handed the boy
his head-rope to take the horses to pasture. As
the boy rode off, he saw his uncle in the open door
of the teepe-, picking up an ax. He heard no
"From the boy's evidence, and from the signs,
this Indian must have found the white man assault-
ing his woman. He came behind, and with a single
stroke of the ax sliced Saunders' head in halves,
leaving the blade where it stuck. Then he dragged
the body off his woman, and found her with both
hands clutching the haft of a knife. The blade
was hilt-deep, and must have entered her heart, for
she was already dead."
Brat was not likely to stand much more of this.
I sent him to fetch Sam.
It was well we waited until Brat left the room, for
Sergeant Millard gave particulars which even a
hardened sinner prefers to forget.
"The knife, sir."
So Millard laid on the desk before me the Spanish
poignard which long ago I had bought as a curiosity
in Winnipeg, used for many years as a paper-cut-
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 351
ter while stationed at Prince Albert, and finally
given to Rain last summer as a wedding present
Now it was black with her blood, but it had saved
her honor. I picked it up, forcing myself to in-
"An Italian stiletto, eh? How should an Indian
woman come by that?"
"Italian, sir?" asked Millard.
"Venetian," said I, examining the hilt. "Looks
like seventeenth century work. People wore the
knives they used at table."
"The Indians," was Millard's comment, "have
kits of curios picked up jn their wars."
I put the weapon down, and lighted a cigarette,
proud that no tremor of the hands betrayed my
agitation. An Indian had murdered a white man —
that was all — and a squaw had killed herself. There
was nothing to identify Don Jose.
The sergeant was gray with fatigue, and I bade
him sit down.
"I think," he said, "that Indian had gone mad.
They do sometimes. The old woman came back as
he left the teejiee carrying his rifle, a Winchester.
He was loading as he crossed to the agent's house.
"Mr. de Hamel says I.e was smoking his after-
supper cigar in the veranda when he saw the Indian
352 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
coining, stark staring mad. He tried to get into
the house for his gun, but a bullet dropped him in
the doorway. The left femur was broken six inches
above the knee, but Mr. de Hamel managed to drag
himself into the house and behind the front door. It
opens ioward. Charging Buffalo went in and look-
ed round, but couldn't find the agent It was after
dark then. After a minute or two, he went out,
running toward the pasture for his horse."
"What grudge could he have against Mr. de
"The man who had sheltered Red Saunders ?"
An Indian, a bear, or a white man, will defend
his mate from outrage, and kill without scruple,
justly. That is unwritten law which needs no writ-
ing. Red Saunders had to be killed, and the man
who harbored such vermin must take the conse-
quences. But what of the law which was bound to
avenge De Hamel?
"How long was it. Sergeant," I asked, "before
this affair was reported?"
"I found the bodies were still warm," he answer-
ed, "the scent still hot, if I'd had the blof^Jhounds
I requisitioned. But it was pitch dar' , no moon,
"Could you find the tracks with a lantern ?"
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 333
In weary scorn, the sergeant retorted, "A lan-
tern? Too good a target."
Almighty Voice, the Cree outlaw, killed five of
our men before we brought up a gaa and shelled his
earthwork. Sergeant Millard was right not to at-
tempt half measures.
"De Hamel," he told me, "had arterial bleeding,
and my first job was to clap on a tourniquet. He
was pretty far gone when I reached him. I sent an
Indian, his servant, to Doctor Delane, and put a sen-
try on the house in case the lunatic came back for
another shot. I saw that Mrs. De Hamel and the
children didn't expose themselves at lighted win-
dows. Next I had to handle the Bloods: they were
getting excited. I couldn't get away imtil now."
"You had three constables?"
"One on pass, one on flying sentry, and one with
the interpreter collecting information. At daylight,
we picked up the tracks, before the people had them
trampled, so I know which way the man went. I
want a patrol, sir."
"About this boy. Bears. You brought him in?"
"He escaped, sir."
I told him to send the sergeant-major, then get
some food and rest while he had time. So I was left
354 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Grown men in my trade are expected to keep
themselves in a state of discipline, but there are
times when it is best to be alone.
And even in solitude we of the North are denied
the relief of tears, would rather sacrifice the respect
of our ellows than lapse from self-respect. For
us there ; i" relief.
My fr= ,d and I had fought shoulder to shoul-
der, wit.i only death between us, who needs no more
space than a knife-edge. Stirrup to stirrup we had
ridden the long patrols, faced the shrewd killing
blizzards, and the terrific heat of an unsheltered
land. No word or breath of discord had marred
the perfection of our friendship. To him I owed
the contentment which made a small career worth
Enviously, and yet with dread, I had seen him
climbing heights of the life spiritual which I could
never dare. And now, it seemed, in one tremendous
downfall he was cast to hell. He was mad, a homi-
cidal BwnUc, to be hunted as wolves are hunted.
From that I wanted to stand aside, had hoped in
desperate anxiety that my commanding officer would
come quickly and take charge. But now Brat re-
turned with a stiff salute and the official manner to
tell me that the superintendent commanding and Mr.
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 355
Sarde were away, not to be found. The burden
of command waa on my shoulders, to set the chase
in motion which was to hunt the one person I really
I suppose Brat watched my mood, for suddenly,
alone as we were, he clapped his hand on my shoul-
der. "Buckie," he whispered, "can't you get blood-
hounds? Isn't it possible, somehow? It's the only
hope ot getting him without bloodshed. Hire them,
and if it costs me my ranch, I'll pay."
"Where can we get them?"
He drew back. "I don't know. One or two
sheriffs have them in the states."
"They couldn't send them out of their own dis-
tricts. And, Brat— if our interests in this business
got wind! No, we must get Jos6— and work up a
good enough case for the defense. A jury would
say it served Red Saunders right, and as to De Ha-
mel, he was only wounded."
There are so many narratives of the famous man-
hunt, official, 4)ublished, suppressed, or even truth-
ful, that I am cumbered with too much material.
The official ver.<!ion may be set aside as dull, a
3S6 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
record of mileage covered by one hundred sixty
horsemen during a period of four lonths. The dis-
trict combed was about ninety miles square, or
eighty-one hundred square miles of foot-hills and
plains complex with brush, with boulder tracts, and
ravines affording plenty of cover to a hunted man.
My own story, were I to cite the details, would
explain a feverish industry, a craze for duty, a seek-
ing and using of even the flimsiest excuses to shove
Mr. Sarde out of the hunt, and take his place as
leader on the pdtrols. In truth, I was not concerned
to save my brother oflicer from overwork, or to win
his gratitude, but rather to avert a meeting between
Sarde and Don Jos6. Sarde had betrayed a woman,
using the mean device of a sham wedding; when
brought to account by La Mancha in the duel outside
Fort Carlton, the cad played foul; and if my friend
met his antagonist in the field he would unques-
tionably kill. I would have offered myself as La
Mancha's second for that just duel, but I preferred
a formal mannerly encounter as between gentle-
men, and had reason to dislike, to prevent by all
means pcssibb the killing of Sarde by Charging
Buffalo, as a deed which must bring my friend to
a shameful death at the gallows. My main hope
in the man-hunt was to make the arrest myself.
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 357
averting further bloodshed. Jos6 would not shoot
There are other versions of the story, melodra-
matic press reports which use the facts as a mere
groundwork for building up sensation, but in the in-
terest of truth, I set down here my private notes
of what Don Jose told me. After his capture, I
had the prisoner brought before me at the orderly
room, placed the two sentries on guard outside the
building, produced a flask of whisky and some cig-
arettes, then took down a more or less official "state-
ment" for use at the pending trial.
It was ever so curious to see the impassive Indian
change at an instant into the Spaniard, the cavalie.,
amused, sympathetic. And as the narrative went
on, he swung from mood to mood.
"Oh, Buckie, don't get mixed ! I'm to be hanged,
not you, so why look so damp? You blighter, I
never had such fun in all my life. Tell the Society
for the Promotion of Cruelty to Animals that foxes
invented hunting. They had merely to run away,
and 'Tally-ho I' the hunt was up and out.
"Shocked, Buckie? Does you good! These last
years I was getting to be a prig, too precious high-
falutin for God's merry winds and laughing, spark-
ling sunshine. I doubt, old chap, that the winged
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3S8 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
seraphim are vain of their pinions and their sing-
ing, as any peacock.
"The spiritual pride of Lucifer hurled him wel-
tering to damnation. I fared no better, and when
I lay smashed, I had to feel myself all over, sur-
prised I was really me. I'm all the better for being
"I'm sorry for some things, Buckie: not for the
justice I did to Saunders, but for the pain I gave
De Hamel, instead of a quick despatch. He earned
that, when he sent Saunders to my lodge."
"That's all you know."
On this one detail my friend showed obstinate
unreason ; in all things else sane as I was.
"Poor Millard 1" he continued. "With the agent
to handle, not to mention the agent's missus and
the kids, no doctor to be had, the Bloods throwing
hysterics, while all the time he expected me to call
and leave a bullet"
"You stayed to watch."
"Yes. Couldn't miss the fun. Might have to
help him with his Indians, too. I felt as if I were
back in the police, and v/hen it comes to Indian
versus whites, we all have to show our color. Mill-
ard's a real man.
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 359
"But the properest hero was young Bears. He
dipped the wooden heads of his arrows in his aunt's
blood, swearing great oaths, too. Then he painted
his face for war, and came to me, making bad medi-
cine. He wanted me to raise the Blackfoot nation.
He would lead the boys in battle. I gave Rain's
nephew the post of honor, to celebrate his aunt's
funeral, killing a horse for her spirit to ride up the
Wolf Trail. He was to give the grizzly bearskin,
your old bed, as an offering to the Sun. Then he
was to keep my standing camp at the agency, draw
and distribute rations, pick up and send on the news,
and put about rumors to fool police interpreters. Oh,
he's the very broth of a boy is Bears. Pity he's
Many Horses' son and not mine. I'd make him
Marquis de las Alpuxarras.
"When I'd made his eyes to shine I streaked off
to my old partner. Many Horses. He took charge
of all my Blackfoot tribe in the diflferent camps
where I'd placed them. He made extra camps with
my two dear nursing scarecrows in charge. That
made six camps, each with a bunch of ponies from
which I could draw my remounts. The Piegans
sent me horses. Now, own up, Buckie — didn't I
give the old troop exercise?"
Indeed he did!
36o THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
"I don't think much of white men's tactics, Buckie.
You wasted half you strength on pickets at Whis-
ky Gap and the Rocky ^lountain passes."
"Sam thought," said I, "that being an Indian,
you'd stay in the district, where you had lots of
help. I thought that, being a white man, you'd
skin out for the states. I didn't say so."
"I thought," said Don Jose, "as a sort of mongrel
white-Indian that before I cleared for Spain I'd bet-
ter arrange the future for my scarecrows, my little
Bears, my brother. Many Horses, and all my rag-
tag and bobtail pensioners. But, when I tried to do
business, they always blubbered until I had to run."
"Why didn't you leave the business to the Brat,
or me ?"
"And sacrifice you both to save my tribe, eh?
Poor sport to make my brother and my chum accom-
plices in murder."
So he had stayed in the district with his depot
camps and relays of ponies. The Indians were
his intelligence department, keeping him constantly
advised by signal-fires and smokes, by cypress mess-
ages on rocks or trees, or by verbal reports which
told him our every movement. I remember one
patrol, when I had twenty men for seventy hours in
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 361
the saddle, until in sheer exhaustion we were com-
pelled to camp at Big Bend detachment. Then came
a rider flying to report that Charging Buffalo had
just been seen at Kootenay. We white men rallied
for the twenty-eight-mile march, but our Indians
lay and were kicked, done for, refusing to move.
We left them, and went off reeling.
On another occasion, a Mormon farmer brought
news that, while he was cutting fence rails, Char,j-
jng Buffalo had crept out from the bush, and made
off with his lunch. Smoldering for revenge, the
man led us through the timber to a small opening
where we found and surrounded a tent. o m;n
covered the entrance with their revolver.^, while I
pulled aside the flap disclosing a couple of Mormons
in a shaking funk.
Farther on, in the gray of dawn, we found an-
other clearing, and a second tent. Here Marmot, one
of my friend's pet scarecrows, who had ridden with
him for many a weary day, heard our approach,
looked out and screamed.
"Oh, I remember that!" said Charging Buffalo,
"and Marmot had a screech like a deep-sea tug. I
ripped the back of the tent with my knife, rolled
through, and got to cover just in time to escape a
362 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
volley. But I was half asleep still, or I'd never
have missed the officer's head. Was that you,
I showed him the hole through my hat. "You
knocked it off," said I.
"You're an awfully bad shot, Buckie," was his
comment, "or you'd have got me that time. As
to your men, they panicked and let their guns kick
high. You should have steadied them with coffee,
for dawn fightiijg." Then he groaned, tallying on
his fingers, "A carcass of Bill Cochrane's beef,
twenty-five pounds of bacon, five sacks of flour, and
one of sugar, a deerskin for making moccasins, an
A tent, and the Marmot I missed taem horribly.
And ne.\t week Sarde recaptured Bears, riding des-
patches. All my rag-tag and bobtail tril* caught
and imprisoned, too. Many Horses was taken with
his wife and the two little girls. Yes, I'd only one
helper left, poor Makes-your-hair-gray, who was
mostly talk. She and I took to following your pa-
trols, so as to get a sleep when you camped, which
wasn't often. I used to think you fellows must be
haunted by remorse, for you never gave me time
for a decent nap. Once, when you'd left two
horses for dead, we had to ride them an extra forty
miles; and even Makes-your-hair-gray was too tired
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 363
to grumble. Oh, do you remember when the cor-
poral at Boundary Creek gave ju a feed, while
Makes-your-hair-gray stole tb lorses out of the
"Fyfe," said I, "was mad as a wet hen."
"So was Makes-your-hair-gray. Fyfe's horse
bucked her off. Yes, and after that all the police
stables were locked and guarded, so we couldn't
get any remounts. Call that sporting? You fel-
lows had no sense of decency. I remember once, at
— oh, yes, at Lee's Creek, the corporal came swag-
gering along with a lantern, and I tried to put it
out, from behind the horse-trough."
"Yes, the bullet whisked through Corporal Ar-
mour's sleeve. He ran for his gun, but you were
off at a gallop."
"Nice chap that," said Charging Buffalo. "I liked
him, but I really needed a remount.
"When I was a little boy there used to be a story
in a book, all about Pussie on the Road to Ruin, a
bad cat who took to evil courses, just like me, and
met with a horrid end, tied to a brick in a duck-
pond. Buckie, you know the Boulders ? They say
Chief Mountain was cross and threw them at his
wife. Well, Pussie was riding along under the Boul-
ders (on the Road to Ruin) where there wasn't any
364 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
snow to make tracks in. It was ; grim gray day,
and Pussie was very, very miserable, riding a rotten
old screw he'd stole from the Lazy H outfit
"Pussie's legs had swelled up with too much ex-
ercise. Pussie hadn't any cat's-meat left to eat. Pus-
sie's last helper had been put in prison. Pussi";
hadn't had a cat nap for three or four days, ana you
know that bad cats are more miserable than good
cats, especially when they're wet. Very cross, too.
"And in the Ten Commandments it says you must
keep the Sabbath — there's not a word about cat-
hunts. Why, even foxes, in decent countries like
England, can go to church on Sundays if they want
"Besides, it was just like Sarde's cheek to ride
Black Prince. He was a picture of sin on horse-
back, anyway. He had a buck policeman with him."
"Amber," said L
"And a scout-interpreter."
"Green-Grass-growing-in-the-water," said I.
"And a body of Indians."
"They'd new rifles," said I, "all clogged with fac-
tory grease, and frozen so the pin couldn't hit the
cartridge. Sarde sent Amber back twenty miles to
Pincher Creek to turn out all settlers in the Queen's
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 365
name; then fire off a despatch here to French, and
take out his citizens to surround yoti — all at full
"Silly. Snow much too deep. Black Prince Came
finely, though, romping along through the drifts,
with Sarde yelling back at his Indians."
"Sarde ordered them not to fire, or they might
hit him by mistake."
"Was that the trouble? Wish they had! Well,
along came Sarde, despising Indians, drawing
abreast of me."
"With orders to shoot at sight."
"Orders? Orders be darned! Laid his revolver
across his thighs, going to make his arrest with a
propah swaggah, damme !"
"Own to it, La Mancha. A brave man I"
"Why not? Else what was he doing in God's
Own First Dragoons ? 'Hello !' says I, as he drew
abreast, 'how's Sarde-the-Coward ?' "
"He reeled as though I'd shot him.
" 'Remember Carlton, Sarde ? And your unfinish-
ed duel with Don Jose ?'
"He v/ent gray at that, but closed in on my pfif
" 'I told you, Sarde, at Carlton, I'd fire at the
366 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
word "three." I gave you two, and you shot me,
you cad. Now get your gun, and ask God's mercy,
for you'll have none from me.'
"He shouted, dry-mouthed, hoarse, like a neigh-
ing stallion. We were abreast now, and my rifle
lay across my knees, my left hand on the trigger, the
barrel pointing under my right arm. I held the rein
high in the right. Sarde was leaning over to grab
at my right shoulder.
" 'Get your guii,' I yelled at him. 'One! Two!'
I had to swerve, or he'd have hauled me out of
the saddle. 'Three !' And I let drive through him.
That finished our duel, and put the sland'.:rer to
"He never used his revolver," I explained.
"Ashamed to need a weapon, arresting by hand after
the grandest tradition of the force, knowing you to
be his enemy, and facing certain death to do his
duty. That man died a hero!"
La Mancha looked about the office, to the door
and the windows, and the orders posted above me
on the wall. Then his eyes, avoiding mine, looked
down at his shackled hands. I had to fight back
tears. So he looked up with that queer writhen
smile of his, and, just as once before long years
ago, when I had tried to put him in the wrong,
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 367
"Buckie," he wailed, "please say I'm not a boun-
"Not a bounder," I almost sobbr--.
La Mancha's bullet had passed through Sarde's
body, then, deflecting on the humerus of the extend-
ed right arm, traversed the forearm, came out of
the palm, and dropped into his gauntlet. Slowly the
dead man rolled from the saddle, while Black Prince
loped on, and the outlaw went beside him. Then
the horse pulled up, snorting, and when La Mancha
came grabbing at the loose rein. Black Prince reared
up, striking with his forefeet in blind rage at his
"He didn't know me," said my friend in bitter-
ness. "My old horse had forgotten me."
So came that most extraordinary fight for mas-
tery between man and horse, watched by the In-
dians, pursuing and closing in on every side. Their
rifles were for the time useless, and to that accident
La Mancha owed his escape, riding away on Black
Prince until, a tiny speck upon the snow-field, he
went down beyond the sky-lii *.
"Whining," La Mancha said grimly, "must be a
comfort. Remorse is prescribed for sinners, and
abject prayer is supposed to be a grace.
"According to the standards of this age, I ought
368 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
to have sued for damages, and trusted tny honor
to the sharp tongues of a pack of barristers." He
"So I was in the wrong. Sarde was a hero to all
the whites, and all the Indians. When he betrayed
a woman he did it in private, so I killed him openly
in public — and I'm a villain. What can you expect
of a mere Blackguard?
"Oh, I had put myself in the wrong, there was
no explaining. The Blackfoot nation said I was in
the wrong, and they should know. They turned
their back) on me for killing Sarde. The govern-
ment offered two hundred dollars for me, the officer
commanding added fifty, which shows I was two
hundred and fifty times a scoundrel. I was lonely,
too, with no friends left in sight, and an awful mis-
giving that the plague of respectability had infected
the Angels in Heaven, who were having their pin-
ions clipped for fear of being thought improper.
"Thou shalt do no murder! It was Sarde's life
or mine. Heads, he got made superintendent ; tails,
I went to the gallows, and he had fifteen Indians to
see fair play.
"Thou shalt not kill! God gives thee grinding
teeth instead of fangs, and tender finger-nails instead
of talons — ^battles to fight without the armor or
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 369
any natural weapons; a spirit made for soaring —
but no wings I
"The honor of women is more sacred in the sight
of God than the lives I took, and if He made a
gentleman, He expects the services of knighthood
from His feudatory.
"Last night, as I lay there in my cell, chained
to the floor, a man on guard, some poor recruit,
fancied I'd given too much needless trouble to him
and to the troop. He kicked me in the face."
"Tell me which man," said I, "or I'll h'-ve the
whole guard punished."
"The years he has to live will punish him. If
you take actions, Buckie, I shall deny what I told
you. There's been enough vengeance."
From the killing of Sarde, La Mancha had ridden
into a world turned hostile. The tribes decided that
his body belonged by Indian law to the white men,
and he must expect no mercy, or help, or succor
from any living creature.
"Many Horses believed," he said, "that his two
young men, Left Hand and Bear Paw, would stand
by me if every other friend had failed. I went to
their cabin, and tied Black Prince to a bush. I
couldn't stand, so I crept across to the door. They
heard me, but when Left Hand came out through
370 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
the door, I saw something wrong in his eyes. I
tried to get back to my horse and escape; but he
threw his arms around me, lifted me to my feet,
and kissed me on both cheeks. Then Bear Paw
stole behind and roped rae, so thac I fell down. He
threw running half -hitches along the rope, lashed
my arms to my body, and my feet together. They
carried me into the cabin, and pitched me down in a
comer. Left Hand rode off on Black Prince to fetch
the police, while Eiear Paw mounted guard. I sup-
pose they got the two hundred and fifty dollars
"Still, I hoped to escape. They had been mending
moccasins, and left an awl on the floor. I managed
to open an artery.
"But that sergeant came too soon," he added, his
voice breaking, "and twice since then I failed.
"The spirits of my fathers have to be faced at
night — when the sentry is pacing his beat outside,
and the moon-ray points like a finger at the time.
Jose, Marquis of the Alpuxarras, hanged !
"So I pray, while the sentry marches, and turns,
and comes back, beating out the hours; while the
moon-ray sweeps like the hand of a clock across
the darkness, through the long nights and the long
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 371
days. God will send me means to come to Him for
For four months the troop had hunted Charging
Buffalo, had been put to derision by the tricks
he played us, to shame by his extraordinary scout-
craft, daring and endurance. The gibes of civilians,
the fleering press, the lessened respect of the Black-
feet drove our men to such a pitch of exasperation
that once they had the prisoner in their power their
only feeling was one of bitter rage.
Three times he made most ingenious attempts at
suicide, — clear proof he was in earnest. Shackled
to bolts in the floor, as the only possible means of
preventing self-destruction, his state was so piteous
that all men's hearts were moved. Then the fellows
began to notice that he seemed to know what sort
of dance he led them of extra duty, that he had an
odd quaint smile of sympathy for their troubles,
that though he had no word of English he was quick
to realize little ways of making things easier for
them. They began to like him, to bring him cig-
arettes and such luxuries as they could buy, and to
372 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
be very tender with the dressings of his legs, both
skinned from heel to groin by his constant riding.
They knew he suffered excruciating pain, they saw
his gay courage, and in the end they loved him.
The Brat, who had been the blithest man in the
barracks, appeared to be ill, dragging himself
through the day's routine, pallid and listless. He
claimed to be well, and the doctor could find no
symptoms beyond the need of a furlough, which
Brat refused with oaths. He was given tonics.
Sam was annoyed by the capsizal of his year's
setting up drills, and tours of inspection, yet treat-
ed the prisoner better than rules allowed, and growl-
ed at the doctor for failing to get the man fatter.
No host likes thin guests — and this veritable skele-
ton in our closet reflected upon our hospitality.
Because I knew something of the Blackfoot lan-
guage, because openly I had taken the prisoner's part
from the beginning, and because Charging Buffalo
would have no man else for counsel, I was allowed
to defend him at the trial. But when I tried to
show him that his only possible plea was insanity,
he refused to have me as advocate until I changed
my mind. Still, under pretext of examining wit-
nesses, with Brat's ready help in cash I was able to
set my friend's affairs in order, and pensioned off
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 373
the rag-tag and bobtail tribe. Being, so to speak,
a brevet barrister for the trial I had for my junior
a veritable and learned scalawag who had eaten
his dinners at the Middle Temple. Since then he
had risen in life as a constable, to be Sam's last
promising young tean-ster. Once with the Viceroy
and Vice-reine of Canada for his passengers, he
drowned his near wheeler in a spate of Belly River ;
but stood on the seat like a charioteer, pouring law
and blacksnake whip into his swimming horses, un-
til they dragged the wagonette, dead mare and all,
up the far bank into safety. Now, finding himself
no longer briefless in his old profession, he drove
through the village in his wig and gown, amid scenes
of tremendous public enthusiasm. Of course he was
punished, and naturally his wig was barred from a
Canadian assize, where such things are not worn;
but still he made me a jolly good junior, driving
me like a team through formidable rites and un-
More difficult to deal with than the actual case
was Brat la Mancha, who insisted upon attending
at the trial. He could not be persuaded to keep
away until I showed him how his presence in the
court would weaken Don Jose, perhaps break down
his nerve, and lead him to full confession. The
374 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
prisoner's race, his nationality and rank were not
matters of public concern, had not the slightest bear-
ing on the evidence of capital felonies, and were
rightfully matters of private concern, to be kept
secret A confession would expose his gallant broth-
er to shame, and drag his great name in the dirt
to no advantage. But the keeping of the secret made
the trial for me a strain to the verge of my endur-
ance, one long agony. My nerve was gone to rage
before the court cbnvened. Of course I had been
chaffed by every man I knew.
We had what are known as "words," amounting
even to "language," when counsel prosecuting for
the Crown objected to me strongly peisonally and
with venom as having no right to appear for the
"It is true," said the judge, "that a layman may
not address the court, but, on the other hand, the
prisoner's next friend has the right to help him
with his defense."
Prompted by my junior, I turned to rend the pro-
secuting counsel, challenged his claim to be a Brit-
ish subject, demanded his papers of naturalization,
and said he had no right to appear in any court save
a back yard:
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 375
"The learned .counsel," said the judge, "has been
called to the Canadian bar."
He then turned up and cited "Pot versus Kettle."
Next I impugned the right of the judge himself
to try an Indian.
"The prisoner," I said, "is by treaty not sub-
ject to any authority save that of his tribal chief.
Her Majesty the Queen has made treaty with the
chief as an allay, an equal sovereign, whose men are
not citizens or subjects of the Dominion."
The judge told me not to talk rot, or words to
that effect, so I gave notice of appeal to the judicial
committee of the Privy Council. That bluff gave
the jury a fine sense of importance, and impressed
His Honor, the fine old humorist on the bench, as a
piece of delightful cheek.
Here followed a slight pause, while the prisoner
whispered to his advocate, presumably in Black-
foot, "Sick 'em, Buckie! Bite 'em! Go for 'em!
Tear 'em and eat 'em!"
"Shut up," said counsel, "or you'll give the whole
show away." Then, addressing the court:
"The prisoner pleads guilty."
Still too weak to stand, Charging Buffalo sat in
the dock, chained, with two constables armed for a
376 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
guard. His reputation carried terror still, and press-
men made good copy of his eagle features, his wolf-
ish smile. "A typical redskin warrior," they called
him, and with hints implied the lie that he had scalp-
ed his victims.
Now the prosecution called its witnesses, Mr. de
Hamel and his wife, sundry settlers, many of the
police, various Indians dealt with through the offi-
cial interpreter. |With dry sardonic humor, the
prisoner asked through me his pungent questions.
All that the Crown suggested as to the prisoner's
malice, ferocity and methods of terrorism collapsed,
and one by one I saw the jurors take the weaker
side. Left Hand and Bear Paw; who had taken
money to betray their friend, had to confront him
now, while in their own tongue he made them con-
fess how the one had kissed him on both cheeks
while the other stole behind him with a rope. They
flinched as though from a whip, their faces turned
gray, they shrank, they held up their hands to shield
their eyes, while word for word I translated to a
court horrified, and a disgusted jury.
"Tell the white chief," said my client, "that Black
Robes have taught me about the white man's cus-
toms. There was a chief medicine man of their
tribe who gave thirty dollars to a white man by the
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 377
name of Judas, who went to his master and kissed
Him on both cheeks. Even the white man was
ashamed, and hanged himself.
'Here is the white man's custom. Left Hand
was paid to kiss me on both cheeks, while Bear Paw
roped me. Did they get the thirty dollars each, or
thirty dollars between them?"
"Tell the prisoner," said the judge, "that we can
not expect him to understand our customs."
This I translated.
"Then," answered Charging Buffalo, "if I'm not
expected to understand your customs, am I to be
hanged for breaking them?"
"I think," said the judge to me, "that this is quite
out of order. You will please abstain from the
methods of cheap melodrama."
But that crushing retort of the Indian, arraign-
ing our justice, left the whole court demoralized,
for the prisoner sat in judgment. With a grave
sweetness he turned to the witness who had betrayed
him. "You may go," he said, "and take my pity
It was then he told his story, while I translated.
He called no witness for the prosecuting counsel to
browbeat, he made no plea of innocence, he asked
no mercy. Rather, he dwelt upon the Indian faitH
378 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
which sent him to worship his God in the far wilder-
ness until the sacred woman, his wife, began to die.
He brought her back to die among her people.
"Her spirit rides the Wolf Trail," he said, "that
big trail across the star-field which leads to the Place
of Waiting, and there I shall go. Life is too diffi-
cult to live, and death so easy."
A coming rain-storm filled the western sky, hiding
the sun, then darkening the air until one could hardly
see across the court iroom. The judge's clerk lighted
The patter of rain blended now with the prisoner's
quiet voice, the flicker of sheet lightning revealed
his face and the gray hair braided down his shoul-
"Think of me," he said, "not as red or black, or
white, but as a man. The same light shines upon
us all, and where the sun is high the folks are black,
and where the sun is low the folks are white; but
high sun or low sun, we children of the .sun are all
one household. There is one Father whose light
fills the sky, who makes us what we are : sons, lovers
of women, parents of little children. Because we
worship our Father up there above, because we obey
Him, because we are what He made us, each man-
child of the skies must protect his women from out-
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 379
rage, must fend for the weak and helpless, must
giaard the life he holds because it belongs to those
who love and trust him, must hate betrayers, must
despise a liar. That is the law above all other laws,
above all chiefs, councils and tribes of men, which
you must obey, big chief up there on the high seat,
and you two warriors on guard, and you men who
sit waiting to send me to death or slavery.
"My friend here who speak? for me says that if
a negro attacks one of your white women, you burn
him at the stake. That is good. If an Indian at-
tacks a white woman, you kill him. That is good.
If a white man attacks my wife, I kill him. Is that
wrong? When I heard her calling to me for help,
should I leave her to her fate and fetch a policeman?
Would you? The bears and cougars, the wolves
and dogs know better than that. Are you lower
than the common curs of the camp— you who dare to
blame a man for his manhood? Shame on you,
your court, your laws which defend the filthy beast
I killed, and condemn me for being a man !
"I killed this beast with an ax, too late to save
my wife. She died of her own hand to escape dis-
honor. That is the right and duty of all clean
women. If your wives failed to do that, you would
almost die of shame."
38o THE CHEERFXJL BLACKGUARD
The rain awept down in torrents, but the prisoner's
voice, with its soft resonance, now seemed to fill
the darkness. We could scarcely see him in the
deep shadow, but the judge and his clerk at the
table had their candle-light.
"The horrible mad beast I killed was called Red
Saunders. It is known that he stole a white man's
wife, and left her to die in shame. It is known to
the Indian women that he was dangerous, and ought
to have been killed.' But he belonged to a powerful
white chief, the Indian agent, who sheltered him,
fed him, used him as a servant, and allowed him
loose to outrage Indian women. He was more dan-
gerous than a grizzly bear, allowed to range the
camp without a 'hain or muzzle. If the Indians
complained of that, the white men would only have
laughed — ^as you are laughing now!"
The rain ceased as it began, with startling abrupt-
ness; the sky was clearing, and as the light increased
we saw the prisoner lying back in his chair, his
face lean with privation, lined with pain, his eyes
closed, his lips drawn, smiling, as he spoke with
"Was this a laughing matter for my wife when
she cried for help and no help came; when she took
the knife from her belt and plunged it into her body
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 381
— until her heart's blood, spurting, drenched her ten-
der, childish, little brown hands?
"Laugh! For tears are weak things, drops of
salty water, running to mere waste; but laugh ;r is
like a crackling fire flaming up to God! Laugh, for
the sun is laughing above the clouds, our God who
sees what little troubles give us so much pain."
He raised himself, his eyes alight with a strange
fire, his voice quivering with passion.
"Do you blame the blade, or the hand that drives
it? Do you blame the wild beast, or the man that
keeps it? Do you blame the man, or the God
who rules him?
"I blame, not the beast I killed, but the man who
owned it. And if I shot that man for owning such
a beast, blame God for making me what I am, the
hand which wielded justice!
"If you want peace, don't drive brave men to war.
If you want war, don't be surprised at the killing.
Hear the low thunder rolling, see the air quiver with
white light : the flash and roar of storms come out
of clouds, the passion and death of men come from
injustice. Deal justly with men and there will be
"Was I not driven to fight, and goaded like a bear
until I turned at bay, hunted by day and night
3to ,THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
through four moons, until I did not care if I fought
a mere hundred men or a tribe, or the whole world?
"AVhat if I killed a chief; Should I kill mere
followers? I killed a chief in i, x of all his men,
aiiu t the rest get off. Why did 1 not kill more,
when I had scores at my mercy in that long hunt-
He lay back wearily, sighing.
"It is done. I am finished. War is a fire burn-
ing a man's bloc^, a great blazing of life — but I am
burned out, to ashes.
"My horses werr taken from me, my poor ser-
vants. There was no food. There was no sleep.
There was no hope except of a death fit for the son
of warriors. I had earned the fighter's death. Surely
I deserved the death of a chief. But I have been
"I have no pride left except that I am guilty of
this charge. Not innocent, not a cc/ward, but one who
has earned a great death. If I were innocent, I
should deserve hanging, or slavery in a prison. I do
not plead to women or children but surely to men,
brave with the natural valor which comes to us from
Heaven, tareful of honor. So I pray you take me
out into the sunshine, and pay me the death I earn-
ed, the death you owe me, with rifles.
, INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 383
"See"— his voice wa« a mere whisper now — "the
rain has stopped, the shadow of the rain has passed,
the Sun God lights the rain-drops, even the dirty lit-
tle rain-drops along the window-frame. Dirty they
are, and yet they shine like stars; small they are, yet
big enough to reflect the figures and glory of their
God, who made them in His image. The Sun-heat
will dry them up, so that their bodies die, and yet
their spirits rise into the heavens.
"I am no more than that, I am no less — a thing
from Heaven, stained and shamed with dirt in this
wu Id, and yet reflecting God, who burns my body to
call my spirit up, cleansed, freed, eternal."
The prisoner's face was changed. He seemed re-
mote from our world, withdrawn to a great distance,
looking down, his smile a benediction.
"Poor little laws !" he said, ever so gently, "ivien
in earnest, groping through the dark in search of
right and truth, children playing at 'Let's pretend to
be God.' Play on at your game, your tiresome game,
in your stuffy, dirty court room, with your old
worn-out rules. But let me go, for I am weary of
this mock trial, in a sham court, where little children
play at make-believe. I go to take my trial at the
Court of God, whose law is truth. You have noth-
ing but death to give. He gives life."
384 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Then there was silence, broken presently by an
emotional juror, who sobbed, and tried to make be-
lieve he had a cough.
The counsel for the Crown had prepared a very
fine speech which he must needs deliver. It was all
about a most murderous and ferocious redskin des-
perado, committing a series of despicable and cow-
ardly outrages, at wanton random of the homicidal
maniac, guided only by the low cunning of a sav-
age. Then we found that this very bad man was the
prisoner, and ripyles of merriment broke into open
I will not quote my speech for the defense, but
merely cite the points which made it hopeless.
There was, for example, a strong contention with-
in my reach that by the most ancient and fundamen-
tal principles of justice a prisoner has the right of
trial before a jury of his peers. Yet my client was
arraigned for felony before a panel to all intents of
his enemies, against whom he had levied war, men
biased by race prejudice before they entered court.
My junior warned me, however, that it is not tactful
to impugn the jury; and British practise, unlike the
American, does not allow the defense to challenge
any juror who has read the public press.
My defense was limited then to arguments which
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 385
the judge derided afterward as those of a senti-
mentalist attempting to interpret murder as virtuous
conduct. As long as I defended the slayer of Red
Saunders I had the jurors with me; even the shoot-
ing of the Indian agent might be condoned as an act
of natural wrath provoked to the degree of actual
madness; but when I came to the killing of Sarde,
the whole court turned against me with a disdain
which chilled me, silenced me. Myself one of the
sworn constabulary, Sarde's brother officer and a
justice of the peace, how could I defend what
seemed, by all the evidence produced, his ruthless
murder, deliberate, unprovoked? The real facts of
the Sarde-la Mancha duel, begun in former years
and now completed, I was barred from telling, and
in default of that excuse the crime seemed mon-
My plea was therefore based on the apparent con-
fusion which brought a stone age savage before a
civilized court, to be judged, not as he should be, by
the sanctions and usages of savagery, but by the
customs of a strange, a mysterious, an invading and
hostile people. What chance would one of us have,
tried by the unknown customs of the heavenly host
before a court of angels ? The jurors laughed at me.
So, with a stinging self-contempt I sat down, a
386 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
total failure, knowing that the uttermost endeavors
of my friendship had brought my friend just one
step nearer to a shameful death.
I am at best a poor interpreter of La Mancha's ac-
tions. His character was built upon a scale beyond
my measurements, beyond, I think, the standards by
which the common nm of men must estimate af-
fairs. There are hill districts of India where a re-
spectable woman must keep several husbands; of
North America where a church elder may have sev-
eral wives without affronting his neighbors; of the
Appalachian Mountains where a man who shirks the
slayings of his family blood-feud earns the contempt
of his mother; and the world has never seen such
ferocious dueling to the death as that considered
right in the southwestern states. The standards of
the old England or the new quite fail to take the
measurements of even our fellow-citizens; and the
whole world's moralities are local to times and
places, not pivots on which the planets are swung by
So there are men whose lives are guided by sanc-
tions of a conscience above the plane where I obey,
who are the clean, effective and useful instruments
of powers far beyond my understanding. I should
need to be Caesar before I could justly wield a Ro-
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 387
man Empire, levying wars to purge distracted prov-
inces, or milling nations between the millstones of an
Perhaps the reader knows whether my friend La
Mancha did right or wrong. I don't.
And so the judge summed up :
"I am here," he said, "gentlemen of the jury, as
an authority on the common la-w and an impartial
umpire to inst. act you before you give your judg-
"The prisoner's friend disclaimed the right of this
court to deal with Indians as British subjects. I
find that the prisoner's friend has misread the treaty
made by Her Majesty with the Blackfoot nation.
This man is subject to the common law.
"He was brought here as an innocent man,
charged with capital felony, free to prove his inno-
cence and entitled to go back to the world, with
your verdict establishing his character before all
"He told you that he is guilty. You have heard
the overwhelming evidence of the facts confessed.
But is he guilty? Is he sane and responsible for
these proven felonies ? On that you must pass your
judgment and give your verdict. He confessed him-
self a public danger, but if he is insane the public
388 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
must be guarded while he remains, during the
queen's pleasure, under medical treatruent.
"The defense raises a second question equally
grave. It is an axiom that ignoraiice of the law ex-
cuseth no man; but, g^tlemen, an axiom, like a dia-
mond, may be hard, impure and flawed. How can
we expect this savage to comprehend our statutes,
obey our ordinances and enjoy our liberties? And
yet, apart altogether from the customs of our peo-
ple expressed in common law, deep down at the
foundation of all human life, is that instinctive uni-
versal wisdom which proclaims that for the common
good the slayer should be slain. Even the plea of
native red Indian custom condemns this man, sur-
rendered by his tribesmen to our justice.
"Next, we have to consider an appeal to something
in us all more potent than our reason, a trait of man
not human but divine, our sense of pity. You have,
no doubt, been moved, as I was, swayed out of all
reason, by the prisoner's fine sincerty, his perfect
manliness, his unusual argument, the purity of his
thought, the rare beauty of its expression. This
man is not, as the Crov/n pleads, brutal or depraved,
but, as our hearts claim, noble. We have to deal,
not with a common felon convicted of mere out-
rage, but with a man, moved by barb-»nc warrior
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 389
motives to acts of war against us. My impulse, and
yours, if I read you rightly, is to pardon.
"Yet pardon, in such a case as this, would gratify
sentiment at the cost of a solemn duty to the state.
As citizens, we may not expose our fellow-citizens
to the free activities of native gentlemen with a taste
for collecting scalps. The prisoner belongs to the
fiercest tribe of savages in the Americas, if not in
the world, and they must not be encouraged to hope
that we are sentimentalists to be killed and scalped
by Blackfoot connoisseurs. For the sake of your
women and children, you must do your duty.
"And it is not for pardon that this plea is made.
The prisoner dreads the slavery of imprisonment
more than he fears the gallows. His only claim is
the solemn demand for a death of honor. This, gen-
tlemen, I am sure we would all be glad to grant if it
were only possible. But I fear that death by fusil-
lade is a grace beyond the powers of this court, be-
yond the authority of government, and possible only
by a special act of the Dominion parliament. Here
again sentiment beats in vain against high walls of
reason. I can only warn you that in practise your
recommendation to mercy involves for the prisoner
that which he mo-st dreads — imprisonment for life.
"To sum up : the prisoner is liable nder the law.
390 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
he is guilty of capital felony, and the sole point left
open to your judgment is whether he must be held
responsible for his actions. If you find him sane,
you have only one verdict — ^guilty."
The case was so clear that the jury did not retire,
but, after a brief consultation, gave their verdict,
"The prisoner is guilty."
Strongly moved, visibly reluctant, the judge told
me to ask the prisoner if he had any reason to offer
why sentence should not be pronounced.
I asked leave to explain in Blackfoot to the pris-
oner all that had transpired. I had leave. But now
I had not the heart to repeat what my friend knew
to the uttermost. I dared not whisper in English,
words failed me in Blackfoot. All I could say was,
"Be brave, be strong." Then I broke down and
La Mancha laughed at me. His soft, low, rippling
laughter startled the silent court Then he said out
loud in Blackfoot :
"Poor old chap I I'll have to help you out some-
how. You've got to pretend to tell me something.
Say the Lord's Prayer."
And so we prayed together in Blackfoot, while I
could scarcely speak for tears, or he for laughter,
I in my cowardice, he in the greatness of his valor.
"Our Father," I muttered.
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 39I
"Which art in Heaven," he laughed; and so, with
alternate phrases, while the crowd waited in awful
silence. And then I said the Gloria.
"Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace,
good-will toward men. We praise Thee, we bless
Thee, we worship Thee, we give thanks to Thee for
Thy great Glory, O Lord God. . . . Have
mercy upon us . . . for Thou only art holy.
. . . Thou only, O Christ. ..."
I had my courage, and stood back, telling the
judge to go on, for the prisoner was ready.
"Convey these words," he said, and his voice quiv-
ered. "The prisoner will stand."
"He shall not stand," I said. "He can not stand."
"Prisoner," I repeated the words in Blackfoot,
"you will be taken back to the place from which you
have come, and there you will be hanged by the neck
until you are dead. And may the Lord have mercy
on your soul."
Then I heard the prisoner whispering in Latin :
"Into Thy hands, O Lord, into Thy hands I"
On the morning after his trial the prisoner sent
for a priest, who confessed and shrived him, taking
392 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
his word that he would not again make any attempt
at suicide. So wc were able to release him from the
shackles that chained his wrists and ankles to the
floor, and to give him the liberty of the cell. I sent
in furniture, and arranged for food from the offi-
cers' mess — eccentric conduct, confirming the gen-
eral idea that I was cracked.
As long as there was something to be done, I had
not time to worry, and the time we have for worry-
ing is the greatest curse we know in our little lives.
My friend sent his priest to tell me that he had con-
fessed, so with the holy father I had no need for
further secrecy. Sharing a secret takes ;:way half
And at this time I shared no secrets with Brat.
He went his own dour way and I went mine, be-
cause we dared not be seen in conference. After
the trial he went on furlough, by doctor's orders, re-
turning on the eve of the execution completely re-
stored to health.
Sam twitted me in his nice way for my sentimen-
tal conduct, hinting at duties apart from those which
needed a cap and apron. He visited the prisoner
himself, talking in the sign language, telling stories
of Sitting Bull, Spotted Tail, Crowfoot and other
mighty chiefs he had known in the early days. My
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 393
officer commanding was a great gossip, a great dis-
ciplinarian, soldier, magistrate, administrator, ty-
rant, friend — nothing by halves. He called me a fool
for being sentimental, and furtively smuggled bottles
of port to the cell by way of a tonic, to give his pris-
oner strength for the coming ordeal. Then he
chaffed me, and his tongue raised blisters.
"Buckie," he said once, "do you remember a
young chap we called the Blackguard? — La Man-
cha's brother. He was killed arguing with a horse.
This Charging Buffalo reminds of him somehow.
We'll have him fat before we kill him, Buckie."
No horse or man ever escaped Sam's memory.
"Buckie," said the prisoner, "I don't like fooling
"Trust him to the limits. But how about the
Brat? A scandal would spoil his chance of being
"I remember, Buckie, once, when he was a very
wee brat, he woke from a dream, screeching as if
there were no hereafter. 'Oh, Mummie, Mummie !'
he sobbed, 'a fox haa biten off my tail, and a slug-
gard's in my bed!' You know, he wouldn't make a
"Don't spoil his chance."
"Well, perhaps not." Then, with a whimiical
394 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
ligh, "You see, I've lost even my taste for scandals."
The condemned cell had become for me the one
place free from worries, for in my dear friead's
presence I felt as though I had followed him into
rest Sadness made him laugh, and laughter jarred
him. All who came near him were hushed, as in
the presence of death, and we seemed transparent
to his eyes, which were lost in impenetrable shadows.
He was no longer habitant of this earth, but lived
among things invisi)>le. He told me that Rain was
always at his side, that she would stroke his hair
and give delicious mimicry of my voice and manner.
"I begin to see," he said, "through veils which grow
thin toward the light.
"You know, Buckie, that when a gun is fired, or
lightning flashes miles and miles away, you wait
and count the seconds until you hear the crash.
There's not really an instant between flash and bang,
but we have an illusion which we call time. It does
not exist. Time's only a thing we imagine: the
pause between flash and bang."
"The flash and bang of what?"
"Suppose it is a word, proceeding out of the
mouth of God, which bids your soul to serve. Be-
tween the blaze and the report you enter time, bom.
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 395
living, gone, and all the long revolving years be-
tween of happiness and sorrow, sin and penance, the
passions, loves, ambitions, triumphs, failures, from
birth to death exist within this instant we call a
human life. We are like falling stars, the meteor
stones which rush through the eternities of space
unseen, unknown, save for the moment's blazing
transit of earth's atmosphere. But we are spirits
lit by a word of God."
"Yes. Dirt and water will make your mud, but it
takes heat and pressure to turn common stuff to
gems, burning for stars, torture to create poor crea-
tures like ourselves into immortal spirits, and God
alone knows what terrific ordeal exalts His angels
until they can exist triumphant in His presence. I
am ready, waiting, impatient, filled with ambitions
I hardly dare to think of. The light is blinding."
"Aren't you afraid?"
"Awed, rather. I shall leave fear behind me. The
blind are made to see, the dead are raised, we poo-
have the Gospel preach<;d to us. Blessed arc the
blind, the poor, the dead, for even in Christ shall all
be made alive, and death is swallowed up in victory."
So, rapt in contemplation, this dying felon sav/
396 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
not the walls which imprisoned his body, but viL:ons
of immeasurable grandeur through the wide gates
It would be morbid to dwell in detail on the last
days, when many Indians were permitted to see the
prisoner, when the men of D Troop who had hunted
him to this death shook hands at parting, when the
priest and I by turns sat with him while through the
long hours we could hear the hammers at work upon
the scaffold across our barrack square. At the very
end of that, in the dusk, when our time came to part,
I knelt to receive his blessing. Afterward, I sent
my servant for Black Prince, and being off duty,
spei't most of the night out on the plains, where I
could be alone. The stars were very bright, and on
the uplands a touch of summer frost turned ail the
grass to silver. So the dawn broke, and far away I
heard reveille sound, like a great throbbing prayer
cleaving the skies.
The whole Blood and North Piegan tribes had
been assembled to witness the public execution
of the Indian who had dared to levy war against
'fmr empire. The chiefs and medicine men of the
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 397
South PiegMM, stanch friends of Charging Buffalo
as the adopted son of Medicine Robe, had come
across from Montana to see his passing. Even some
of the North Blackfeet and the Stonies had trav-
eled the hundred miles or so from their reserves.
All had pitched their teepees on the banks of Old
Man's River, and in the daybreak I rode homeward
through a camp of the Blackfoot nation worthy of
It was broad daylight when I reached my quar-
ters, with time for a bath and coffee. Fear of pos-
sible excitement among the Blackfeet had made it
necessary to rally our men from the detachments,
and muster a general parade of the division to hold
the barrack square and guard the scaffold. 7 went
on duty, took the parade and reported to the officer
The prisoner, thanks to very careful nursing, had
been well enough these last few days to walk, taking
even a little exercise, although he had not strength
to stand at his full height. He was bent like an old
man, and when he left his cell would wrap himself
in his large blanket, which formed a sort of cowl
hilling his face. Civilians would come and stare,
and he resented that.
Now, leaning on the priest's arm, he came out
398 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
from the guard-house, attended '7 the guard, who
fornied up round one of our transport wagons which
stood in waiting. At my request, a pair of steps
had been placed as a mounting-block, from which,
with the priest, he entered at the tail of the wagon.
The teamster was my junior counsel, and in the off
man's place sat the fellow chosen as hangman, wear-
ing civilian clothes and a silk mask.
As the team started at a slow walk, the prisoner
commenced to sing his death-song after the Indian
usage, but the priest, as I learned afterward, asked
him to stop, saying that the Blackfeet would under-
stand, but white men would think him afraid. In a
dead silence the wagon crossed the parade ground
and backed to the scaffold, which was level with its
bed. Then the priest lifted the prisoner, supporting
him until they came under the gallows. The hang-
man joined them, carrying the white cap which was
to be drawn over the prisoner's head, hiding his face.
I remember steeling myself to see the common-
place details, and to see nothing else, to think of
nothing else. A night of preparation had strength-
ened me to face as best I could the public and shame-
ful death of the one man on earth I loved. Even
now I could not bear to lock toward that group on
the scaffold, but turned about, surveymg the hollow
INSPECTOR BUCKIE'S NARRATIVE 399
square of our parade formation, the dense mass of
Indians surrounding the barT:,;V fence, the crowd
of white men. Then I he .rd a suilder tremendous
gasp of amazement, of ge. erul consteriation, and a
single triumphant voice rang oui h^vn the scaffold.
I turned, could not believe my eyes, stared won-
der-struck; then ran as hard as I could pelt toward
The prisoner, with one great sweeping gesture,
rose to his full height, lifting the blanket apart until
he held it behind him with widely outstretched arms,
disclosing the scarlet tunic, breeches and gleaming
boots, the four gold chevrons on his forearms of a
staff-sergeant. The blanket dropped; he snatched
away the long gray braids of hair, and cast at his
feet a wig. There, with his curly raven-black hair,
his laughing eyes and milk-white teeth, in the prime
of radiant health, laughing hysterically, was Brat
"Drugged!" he yelled. "He wouldn't go, but I
drugged him. He's escaped! He's in Montana by
Sam had leaped on the scaffold before I got there,
and never have I seen a man in such a blazing rage
as my commanding officer was then. "What does
this mean?" he asked through his teetH.
400 THE CHEERFUL BLACKGUARD
Brat stood to attention, beaming with an out-
rageous benevolence. "It means, sir," he answered
joyfully, "that the prisoner was my brother."
"Yes, sir; Ex-constable Jos6 de la Mancha, my
brother, who changed places once with me when I
was a prisoner. It's my turn now, sir. Hang me I"
"By the Lord God!"
"To Him, sir," answered Don PedrO haughtily,
"you will leave my,brother. I am your prisoner."